A Napier Podcast Interview with Inge Boubez - Moz

Interview with Inge Boubez at Moz

Inge Boubez, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Moz, is the latest guest to join the Marketing B2B Technology podcast. Inge explains how, although the fundamentals of SEO haven't changed, the rise in AI may have an impact in the industry and offers some thoughts on how marketers can address the potential challenges. She discusses both the Moz and STAT Search Analytics platforms, their functionality and how marketers can get the most out of the platforms.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About STAT Search Analytics

Inge focusses on STAT Search Analytics, a product by Moz. STAT is a SERP tracking and analytics platform for tackling large-scale SEO with accuracy and ease. STAT delivers precision SERP insights, fresh each day, helping unlock new opportunities, drive more visibility, and prove the value of SEO.

About Inge

Inge brings over two decades of technology marketing expertise to her role as Director of Enterprise Marketing at Moz, where she focuses on STAT Search Analytics. Her extensive career has covered a wide range of settings, from innovative startups and small-to-medium-sized businesses to global industry leaders. Notably, Inge has contributed significantly at SAP and Layer 7 Technologies (which was acquired by Computer Associates) before her tenure at Moz. Her broad skill set includes demand generation, branding, customer engagement, channel strategy, global event management, and public relations, making her a highly respected and well versed professional in the marketing field.

Time Stamps

[00:48.8] – Inge shares her career journey and explains how Moz and STAT fit into Ziff Davis.

[03:56.5] – How can STAT help with SEO? Inge explains.

[07:39.0] – Inge explains who can use STAT and the training resources available.

[12:25.0] – Inge discusses some of the common mistakes made when optimising for search engines.

[13:52.9] – The potential impact of AI on SEO

[18:07.9] – How is SEO going to change in the future?

[25:23.1] – Inge’s contact details.

Quotes

“We're not just reaching out. We're engaging and understanding what makes our audience tick. And that's the future of marketing.” Inge Boubez, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Moz.

“Keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing, but don't forget that it's all about connecting with people on a human level. We're all humans, whether we're talking to the different personas like CEOs, CFOs, SEOs all over the world, we're all still humans.” Inge Boubez, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Moz.

“We're helping SEO professionals understand their unique search landscape and how they're positioned in it, and also helping them find new search opportunities and strategies.” Inge Boubez, Director of Enterprise Marketing at Moz.

Follow Inge:

Inge Boubez on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/inge-boubez/

STAT Search Analytics website: https://getstat.com/napier/

STAT Search Analytics on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/stat-search-analytics/

STAT Search Analytics on Twitter: https://twitter.com/getSTAT

STAT Search Analytics on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/getstat/

Moz website: https://moz.com/

Moz on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/moz/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Inge Boubez - Moz

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Inge Boubez

Mike: Thanks for listening to Marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Inge Boubez. Inge is the director of enterprise marketing for stat at Ziff, Davis. Inge, welcome to the podcast.

Inge: Thank you, Mike. It's a pleasure to be here. What an honour.

Mike: It's, it's great to have you heard, I'm really excited. So what we always like to do before we start talking about what you do at work, and things like that, is find out how you got here. So can you tell me a little bit about your career journey?

Inge: Gosh, my career has been quite the ride, I must say, I started in the trenches of tech marketing moves through various startups, and even spent time with the giants like SAP. But I feel that zip Davis, that's a different story. They might seem like an old school publisher at first glance, but they're anything but when they scooped up Moz and start, I knew they were serious about leading in the digital world. And joining them felt like jumping onto a moving train of innovation, which is exactly where I want it to be.

Mike: I mean, that sounds awesome. And you've mentioned a few businesses there. So can you just maybe explain to the listeners who might not know, you know how stat fits in with Ziff Davis and also miles, please.

Inge: Yeah, it's a pretty interesting landscape, I must say. So Stott sits alongside Moz Pro, and Moz. Local as the SEO vertical of Ziff, Davis MarTech arm, which happens to be called the Moz group. Now, other brands within the MAS group, our eye contact campaigner, SMTP and kickbox, which make up the email vertical, and then there is line two and E voice, which then make up the communication vertical.

Mike: Oh, that's fascinating. I actually didn't realise it was quite so much within that Moz group inside Ziff Davis, I didn't know you had, for example, the email side on the voice side, so Ziff, Davis obviously invested a lot in digital technology. So one of the things they've done and I think through through Moz, they brought stat into the business, is that right? Absolutely. What do you see as the future for stats? I mean, how is that gonna develop? You know, how can Jeff Davis develop the brand, but also think perhaps maybe there's an opportunity for stats and the rest of Moz to help Ziff Davis grow and develop?

Inge: Yes, and thank you for asking that question. I believe the future of stat is bright, very bright, there is renewed interest and investment in the business. And we've got a packed roadmap this year. And that includes rolling out a brand new website and product user interface, both of which are looming just around the corner, we're talking about just in a couple of months. So there is a strong affinity for the stock brand, within the business, for sure. But also in the SEO industry at large. We've got a lot of stat advocates rooting for us. So we're really excited to deliver on this next phase of stat. And with SIP Davis being such a big umbrella, we had the unique opportunity now to connect directly with a much larger, diverse group of sister brands to test new product ideas and get insights into cross industry use cases. And of course, there's also the upside of continued investment in our platforms and in our people.

Mike: So you sound really positive. I mean, I think maybe one of the things I might need to do for some of the listeners is take a step back. I suspect most listeners are familiar with Mars, which is one of the best known sort of, you know, self serve SEO tools available. But can you explain what that does? And how it helps people with their SEO?

Inge: Absolutely. The short answer of what stat does is stat is a superb tracking and analytics platform built for large scale SEO needs. And the long answer is that it helps clarify where stat sits in the SEO tool market. It involves expanding on a couple of points. So first of all, that could mean that you work for a really big website, one that has 1000s, or even millions of pages that you're responsible for, you know, think the retail and E commerce, finance, travel and hospitality or media and entertainment spaces. Or it could also mean that you work for an agency, and maybe you're not a big agency, and maybe each client website isn't massive, but when you add all of them up, you add up everything that you're actively working on. It turns out that you've got a lot of SEO in your hands. Basically, a typical stat client ends up tracking 1000s of keywords, whether that's for one website, or across many websites that you're managing. Second, we'd tend to favour saying that we do SERP tracking instead of just rank tracking. Because our data is more than just here's your tracking or ranking position and ranking URL. The SERP itself is more than just rents. It is essentially a treasure trove of consumer research. We all know that Google puts a tonne of money and effort into understanding what searchers want, and delivering on that. And competitive Intel as well. So we parse, analyse and deliver what's on the entire 100 results, sir. So you're also going to get SERP features, and better insights, visibility, metrics, and more. So in many ways, the large skill of stat also applies to the sheer amount of data that we collect, and the fact that we collect it daily. So by serving these precision SERP insights every single day, we're helping SEO professionals understand their unique search landscape, and how they're positioned in it. And also helping them and find new search opportunities and strategies, which in turn, of course, helps them drive more visibility, traffic and revenue, and ultimately helps them prove the value of their SEO. Now, SEO is both very cross functional, and also not always the most understood function within an organisation, even by the team that it sits on. So one of the biggest things we hear from SEO professionals is that they often spend a lot of time educating the organisation on the value of what they bring to the table, which is a big frustration. So having this kind of data always allows them to show the impact of their work. Additionally, compared to a discipline, like PPC, SEO has huge returns and potential, but it lacks concrete data to prove it. So stat aims to bridge that gap. By giving SEO professionals the scale of data they need to explain the value and context of their work. So I hope I've kind of painted the picture that you're asking there.

Mike: I think that's that's a great explanation. I mean, it sounds very much that what you've got within the SIF, Davis organisation is you've got the Mostoles, which a lot of people know, very much self service, but they're going to be looking at maybe 10s of keywords. And what you've got with stat is something that perhaps is designed for SEO press people really deep into SEO. So I'm really interested to learn a bit more about that and perhaps learn a bit more about you know, pricing and how people justify the cost of what must be a much more expensive tool.

Inge: You are absolutely right, Mike. So stat is designed for large scale SEO activities. It is designed more for a what then a who we do mostly attract users that have SEO somewhere in their title. So that would be an SEO manager or SEO, lead, SEO director, SEO analyst SEO technical or technical SEO experts and so on, versus a general marketer. But you certainly don't need to consider yourself a pro or an expert, or an advanced SEO professional to use stat. So what that means is, if you're working with the kind of scale that stat is best suited for, we're definitely an affordable option. Our competitive per keyword pricing, for example, is designed to scale with you without breaking your bank as you go. Plus, our billing is extremely flexible. If you only need a few days worth of data, for example, whether for a pitch or a short term campaign, you can jump into stat and toggled tracking on or off for any number of keywords, and your billing will follow suit. So essentially, you're only being billed for the days that you track.

Mike: That's great. It sounds like you're you're really focusing on delivering value, which I think is brilliant. I mean, one of the things I wonder is it you know, obviously stat is incredibly powerful. But SEO is important to a huge range of people who are often non SEO experts minimal loss of marketing, people want to know the impact of what they're doing on SEO. So how would a non SEO experts learn to use stat to improve their rankings and improve what they're running as campaigns?

Inge: A great question. We've got a learning team that's dedicated to creating training materials coursework and documentation to help get clients up to speed with stat quickly, and the top notch client success team who is available for training and strategy sessions. So we just want to ensure that our clients are staying up to date with features and functionality and also feel equipped to handle whatever new thing Google might throw their way. Now, on the marketing side, we also spent a lot of time on mid funnel content. So product use cases and client case studies for example, as it's a valuable learning material for our clients as well. It gets a second life outside of helping leads along the funnel, if I may say so. And of course, you don't have to be an expert in SEO to use stat. And chances are, you aren't just starting out in SEO if you are using stat, but if you find yourself in that place, one of the perks of being part of Moz is that it is the place to learn SEO. So we've also got a tonne of resources at our disposal for you to utilise.

Mike: That's great. And certainly, you know, I mean, we're very familiar with a lot of the Moz training at the basic level that that's awesome. But you mentioned some of the customer case studies and looking at how stat benefits customers. I'm really interested if you've got some examples of how customers could increase their search performance by using the stat.

Inge: A lot of times clients think that they're competing with a handful of known business competitors. But from an organic search standpoint, there are almost always plenty that they aren't aware of stat surfaces, those true search competitors, and how much served visibility everyone owns. You've now saved yourself a tonne of wasted effort and are in a position to be super targeted with your strategy. You know who your competitors are and what type of content you need to beat. And now you can chart your progress in visibility that you've gained from it is invaluable. Since the SERPs are more than just 10 Blue organic links. Understanding the different types of search features that appear in your search space is definitely key. Not only do they present a golden opportunity to own a larger piece of Serb real estate, crucially, their Google telling you the type of content that it knows searchers want to see now stat will show you exactly which sir features are showing up for your whole keyword site specific keyword segments and even for individual keywords. So that way, you can understand the content formats that are worth pursuing. There's no sense in showing up to a SERP full of video results with a blog post, for example.

Mike: Oh, I love it's a great point. And I think something often overlooked in SEO. And actually, let's stay on that topic. I'm interested. Are there other things that you see it stat where marketers are getting it wrong? They're trying to optimise websites for search engines, and they're not really doing the right thing?

Inge: Well, I love this question. Okay, I'll outline a couple of things that I've seen. Some common missteps are focusing on the quantity of articles versus quality, something that has really popped back up with the explosive rise of generative AI, this is quite common. Second point would be using dated SEO best practices like keyword stuffing. That's the second example there that I see quite common. And the third would be ignoring internal links and relying on external links instead, which are far harder to get and don't always have as big of an impact as you may hope. And lastly, what I'm also seeing is getting hung up on on two to three big head term keywords that might be at most one to 2% of the total traffic picture. They're often highly competitive and therefore difficult to be successful with. So you end up sinking a lot of time, effort and money into them. And similar to external links, the payoff may not exactly be worth it in the end.

Mike: That's a great point. And I think, you know, a lot of people do get hung up on those big keywords. So So I love that tip there. You mentioned AI. I mean, we're gonna have to talk about AI. And I think, you know, some of us are wondering, is with generative AI being used more particularly becoming more of the interface of the search engine? Is SEO going to be less important? I mean, how's that going to help marketers, once generative AI starts driving those results?

Inge: Oh, you know, this is a really, really good question. I love questions around AI, there has been a lot of apprehension around it, not just an SEO, but really in every walks of our life. So let me focus on the SEO side, we definitely don't think SEO is going to be less important. And for a few key reasons. Number one, we don't think generative AI interfaces will replace search engines. It's simply not an efficient solution to many of the problems that search engines currently solve, like quick answers to simple problems, navigating to a website or seeing a range of content on a topic. Secondly, we don't think that AI written articles will replace content in search results. Users absolutely do not want this, and Google seems committed to engaging in an arms race to detect and deter this behaviour. The kind of content that AI writes well, and that users don't mind being a written is a kind of content that Google will likely answer in featured snippets or similar features. And number three, we don't think search generative variants are similar AI written SERP features will replace organic results. Fundamentally, Google's business model is sending traffic to websites, and they don't want to do anything to disrupt that revenue stream. And again, there are just many cases where generative AI is not always an accurate answer, or ultimately what users are looking for. Things as GE experiment, unlike Google was widely rolled out. And gradually over time, they've shown it on fewer and fewer queries and lower and lower down the search. So unless S G pivots drastically, that gives us a decent picture on what to expect for for the time being in this realm. And as for how stat will help marketers in the age of generative AI, the SERP landscape changes, so does SEO. And so do we, just as with knowledge, graphs, and featured snippets before, when or possibly if Google decides to formally rollout as Ge will be one of the first to parse them and help our users understand them at scale?

Mike: That's pretty interesting. I mean, it sounds like for the hype around AI, is perhaps gonna have less of an impact than some people are predicting. But what I'm interested is, how can I help particularly help people who are looking to improve their search engine optimization? I mean, you know, particularly Are you planning to use AI within the stat tool?

Inge: Well have salutely. And absolutely, we think AI can and does help with SEO. Like any other discipline, and especially technical disciplines, AI can help to parse and interpret large quantities of data, provide example code or spot anomalies. Many SEOs have used machine learning, natural language processing, and even generative AI such as GPT. In this way, for several years now, some AI SEO use cases, for example, would be producing titles, meta descriptions and alt tags at scale, grouping keywords and topics, and creating schema structured data markup for technical SEO needs. In all cases, though, human oversight is always a must. Now, we actually already employ AI in stat Domain Authority has been a machine learning metric since 2019. And our keyword suggestion tool uses NLP algorithms, among others to provide good query matches. And for sure, will continue to augment and process the data we show to users in this way. Although we had no such plan when it comes to our ragging data that has to come straight from the horse's mouth, which is Google. And you know, it can't be modelled or estimated.

Mike: Well, it's good to hear that AI is having a positive impact. And it's been used, I certainly was surprised that domain authority is an AI metric. That's something I've learned. Thank you. There's other things happening as well in SEO. So how else do you think SEO is going to change in the future?

Inge: Well, we've been in the SEO industry for a long time now. And honestly, as much as things change and have changed, they also stay relatively the same, at least in principles. There will always be the scheme of the day to game Google and get quick, but short lived results before they put an end to it. Today, it's aI content. Tomorrow, I'll do something else who knows. The long running trend though, is that if your SEO strategy relies on formulaic or thin content, the top you can imagine being replaced with a search feature, for example, then it's going to get harder and harder for you over time, the bar, what constitutes valuable or helpful content is going to keep getting higher and higher. We expect Google to get even better at understanding nuances and relevance in queries and content. So there'll be less opportunity to rank with questionable or relevant content, even if you've got otherwise good SEO.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense, I think has great advice as well around quality of content. I feel I need to ask you a question, which perhaps is a little bit cheeky. I think like most people, you know, who saw malls in the early days, muscles always generated, you know, great content. And one part of that was certainly Randall I think he was he was seen as you know, being somewhat synonymous with Mars. And obviously, he left and maybe wasn't exactly super happy with what happened. Do you think he'll return what what's the future or are you looking towards a new future?

Inge: Gosh, I feel like texting ran right now. Kidding aside, I can't speak for random on returning to Mars. But I can say that we continue to value and strive for what's been at the core of Rand's vision since day one of Mars and that is a community that shares really its ideas and best practices, thought leaders to champion the evolution of our craft, and innovative tools that underpin the practice of SEO, hope that answers your question.

Mike: I do you know, I think that's really positive. I think that there was a very strong vision. And I think Moses is one of those companies that managed to continue a vision, irrespective of who's actually driving it. So yeah, I mean, I love that answer. Thank you. And I'm very positive. I really appreciate you know, you talking about stats and about Mars. I wonder if I can ask you some more general questions, we'd love to understand, you know, what our guests are doing in terms of their own marketing as well. So how do you promote stat, what's most effective for you?

Inge: We use all the standard channels. But I've always found a lot of success by attending SEO conferences and events. the SEO industry, I find is a very tight knit community where strong relationships and word of mouth go a long way. So it's less about us showing up to an event and walking away with a tonne of ready to convert MQLs. And more about making great personal connections while we're there. And then developing and maintaining those relationships over time, you start to see the same faces at the same events. Now, some of our best leads actually come from current but also former clients who introduce us to their network at events, which is always an honour, and speaks to our general approach of just showing up as a good partner in business. And it's really important to us that we develop a good rapport with our clients, build trust, and forge a productive relationship, that's going to set them up to do the most ambitious and successful SEO in their careers. That's awesome.

Mike: You've beautifully said that. You help people be successful. And that's your best marketing tool. And I love that

Inge: their success is our success. You know, this is something that we want to hone in on every day in what we do.

Mike: That's brilliant. We've also got a couple of standing questions, we always like to ask people. So what's the best piece of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Inge: Oh, gosh, I have had so many advisors, constructive feedback and support given to me over the years, even including where I stand right now. But you know what the best advice I ever got is to talk to people be curious and want to find out talk to people and not the demographics, you know, it's easy to get lost in the data, and forget that there are real people in the other end, the little nugget reminded me like this little nugget reminded me to keep things real, make that emotional connection. It's been my North Star guiding principle ever since it guides how I craft my campaigns, foster work relationships, and lead teams. What I do is I strive to treat people as people first so that we can move in the right direction together as a strong unit. And this speaks to everything that we try to do as a team as an organisation and in the product that we try to create.

Mike: I love that. I mean, our next question is what would you tell a young person who was thinking of marketing as a career maybe an SEO now you've been super enthusiastic? Inger, so I think you're going to be quite positive on this one.

Inge: Don't go in it. No, no, that's just me being facetious to the newbies thinking about marketing, gosh, dive in headfirst. And stay curious, you might get a bit bloody you know, at times, it might be a little bit rough, but it's worth it. This field is a wild mix of tech and human psychology for sure. And sure, it's changing at lightning speed. And some of us may get nervous about that. But that to me is the thrill of it. Keep your eyes peeled for the next big thing. But don't forget that it's all about connecting with people still, on a human level. We're all humans, whether we're talking about a different personas like CEOs CFOs. You know, SEOs all over the world. We're all still humans. So your ambitions, your passions, your empathy and your honesty. That's your key to success. And that's been my secret sauce.

Mike: That's great advice. Ingress has been a really fascinating conversation. I feel SEO is such a complex and deep subject. Is there anything else you feel that maybe we should have covered that we skipped over?

Inge: Well, since we are in the tech world, it's always about evolution. And the next big thing as I as I mentioned, so speaking of evolution, SEO and analytics have come a long way, right? It's not just about keywords and backlinks anymore. Ai stepping in as we've touched upon earlier, changing how we understand and interact with data. It's like having a microscope that shows us not just the what, but the why behind user behaviours. This technology is making our strategy smarter, more personalised. We're not just reaching out we're Engaging and understanding what makes our audience tick. And that's the future of marketing. They insightful, data driven yet deeply human. That's what I stand by.

Mike: That's such a positive view of things. So thank you so much, Inge. I'm sure people listening to this would want to find out more. So how could they contact you if they'd like more information?

Inge: Oh my gosh, that is music to my ears. Well, if anyone wants to get into the nitty gritty of this stuff, or just swap stories, I am all ears, shoot me an email or let's connect on LinkedIn. I'm always up for a good chat about the next big thing in marketing.

Mike: I really appreciate all your time. You've been very generous with your knowledge. Thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast.

Inge: Thank you.

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


Producing Emails for Maximum Impact

Spam complaints can harm the reputation and delivery of your email marketing campaigns. The average email spam complaint rate across the B2B space is very high at 2%. So, how can you create emails that overcome this issue?

Mike Maynard and Hannah Wehrly  discuss best practices for producing effective emails, from ensuring content matches the subject line to adjusting email design based on the content. They also share their thoughts on how they believe the use of AI will impact personalisation.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Napier

Napier is a PR-lead, full service marketing agency that specialises in the B2B technology sector. We work closely with our clients to build campaigns, focusing on achieving results that have a significant positive impact on their businesses and which, above all, ensure maximum return on their investment.

About Mike Maynard

Mike is the Managing Director/CEO of Napier, a PR and marketing agency for B2B technology companies. A self-confessed geek who loves talking about technology, he believes that combining the measurement, accountability and innovation that he learnt as an engineer with a passion for communicating ensures Napier delivers great campaigns and tangible return on investment.

About Hannah Wehrly

Hannah is the Head of Business Development and Marketing at Napier and leads on pitching, proposal writing, lead nurturing, email marketing, social media and content creation. Hannah joined the Napier team back in 2017 as a Marketing Specialist after completing her degree in Marketing and Communications, and her role focuses on developing new relationships with potential clients.

Time Stamps

[00:41.7] – Mike and Hannah discuss some insights from recent Salesforce and Acton webinars.

[06:13.8] – Mike discusses the importance of making sure email copy is engaging.

[07:07.1] – The importance of brand and consistency.

[09:12.1] – Mike and Hannah discuss mass personalisation with AI.

[12:31.7] – Mike and Hannah share their insightful tip of the week.

Quotes

“Sometimes the subject line oversells the content and people think they're opening an email about one thing and actually it's not quite as good.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

Follow Mike and Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-wehrly-b0706a107/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing Automation and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast – Marketing B2B Technology: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/marketing-b2b-technology/id1485417724

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode 13 – Producing Emails for Maximum Impact

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast. I'm Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard. This is Napier's podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketing automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment. Today we discuss email deliverability,

Mike: the use of AI in mass personalization

Hannah: and things to think about when designing emails. Hi, Mike, and welcome back to another episode of Marketing Automation Moment and a happy new year. Yeah, happy New

Mike: Year. And it's been a while. And there's certainly a lot of interesting things to talk about, I think,

Hannah: Oh, absolutely, I'm really excited to delve in. So we're gonna look at a few different things. And I want to kick off with an interesting webinar that I saw from Salesforce. And I think the really interesting thing about this is that Salesforce actually marketed themselves a little bit differently. So the webinar itself actually focused on how to accelerate your top of funnel with sales. And it really focuses on talking about how buyers are finding purchasing difficult the experiences offer fallen short of where they want to be. And then it really focuses in on the sales side. So how can platforms like Salesforce, really help push that buyers journey, and help them have a better experience? I mean, marketing automation is often so focused on the marketing side, for me, it was really refreshing to see sales take the forefront of that webinar. Yeah,

Mike: I mean, I think, you know, if you look at Salesforce, obviously, their main business is sales. And that's where they've grown from, and they've then acquired Pardo to build out the marketing automation. I mean, to me, it's kind of interesting. You know, Salesforce is obviously the dominant supplier in the marketing, you've got to guess if two thirds of sales teams are overwhelmed by the sales tools they've got, a lot of those are probably using Salesforce. So maybe there's, you know, a few problems with their system as well as trying to present the solution. Oh,

Hannah: absolutely. I think that's a really good point, Mike, maybe they're actually looking at ways to reinforce why they're the best option. Yeah.

Mike: And to be fair, I mean, I think, taking this data that sales teams are struggling with the tools, and then trying to do something better, you know, really is a good idea. I have to say, though, at the moment, it's interesting, because, you know, a large number of systems are very similar to Salesforce. So to try and define Salesforce as a tech centric platform that they call it, they're trying to make it a rep centric platform. It's great. They're trying to do that. But it does feel a little bit like marketing and positioning rather than necessarily a huge change in the way they're approaching things. I mean, Salesforce still is the de facto way that CRMs are built.

Hannah: I mean, you've really opened my eyes then like, because I feel like I've just fallen for that facade there. Because I've looked at being like, Oh, look at how great they are. But having just here, you explain it like that. That's absolutely what they're doing. They're just marketing themselves in a different way. And it'll be interesting to see how many marketers like me get fooled into it. Yeah,

Mike: I mean, I think buying Salesforce is not a simple or, you know, low involvement decision. So I think people once they start digging in and they start seeing what Salesforce are doing. And don't get me wrong, they are trying to make it easier for the reps, but so is everybody else. So I think it's great positioning, maybe not necessarily trying to do anything that's totally opposite to what the other CRMs are doing.

Hannah: Absolutely. Now, I want to move on, because we are a bit webinar tastic, this podcast episode, and that is because I've also came across a really great webinar actually from axon. And it was really interesting, because they were focusing on different things that lead to email failure. So how can marketers improve their email in? I mean, there wasn't anything shocking, there wasn't anything like, wow, I didn't know this already. But they really have gone back to basics of how we can look to improve. So I mean, they broke it down into key areas, copy versus design. So again, not surprising, but they did provide some different tips on what ways they could improve. Did you come across it at all? Yeah,

Mike: and I saw it as well, I thought it was an interesting way they approached it, and particularly when they're looking at this problem that I think a lot of us have, where we create campaigns, and we don't quite do what we expect. So sometimes nobody opens them, sometimes you get a high open rate, but low click through or low conversion, and that's what they they looked at. And to me, it's really interesting because traditionally, you know high opens and low click through rate and conversion says that the body of emails poor, so people see the subject line, they think it's good. The body of the email is poor and act on gave some great suggestions to look at, you know, reducing the read time remembering things like subheadings and then being creative with your design, making it an interesting design and a very high contrast design. So it's a Easy to see what you need to do. But I think also people need to think about their subject line as well in that situation, because sometimes the subject line over sells that content. And people think the roping email about one thing, and actually, it's not quite as good. So I think there's lots of factors that are involved. I mean, the the only way really, you know, you can understand this is by testing. So, it's important not to think about this, after you have the disappointing results, but to start considering the problems before you run a campaign, so you can test different approaches.

Hannah: Oh, absolutely. I love an AB test. And I think also Apple made a really good point where don't just think above the fold. So relating back to what you're saying, like, make sure the content that you're delivering is engaging throughout, because at the end of the day, you don't want people to just look above the fold, you want them to read your full email. And I think sometimes as well like changing the small things, so your call to actions, if all they are is click here or find out more, what benefit is that providing the reader you know, small things like this can make such a difference as well, when AB testing is such a great way to make those small differences, but actually see such a great difference in the results.

Mike: Yeah, you've picked out some great points there. I love those ideas. And I think you know, a lot of people, they look at the email, they focus a lot on the subject and the headline and the image. But actually make sure the copy is great. That's really important. You know, when people are reading emails, they're actually trying to get through their email inbox as quickly as possible. So keeping the email short, and making it worth reading is really the important thing. Oh,

Hannah: absolutely. And I mean, we speak from experience here, Mike, you know, one of our main lead generation tactics is actually on AP news, which is our monthly newsletter. And I think we're about on our fourth design or the newsletter, but we have seen such a difference in the results that I think another message to get across is keep your emails fresh. So if you've had designed for a year, you know, it's working well, but maybe results are starting to dwindle. Look at how things you can change. Remember that you should be consistently improving what you have a

Mike: great point, Hannah. And I think it's important to keep it fresh, but also keep it familiar. So be consistent with brand. And maybe this is something that we could also talk about because a lot of people are still talking about AI there's a lot of excitement around AI, particularly around things like offering mass personalization of emails, AI personalising all emails, and I think brand has a real impact on how effective AI can be in that situation.

Hannah: That's an interesting point. Mike, do you have an example? Yeah. So

Mike: I mean, I was actually interviewing on our sister podcast marketing B2B technology, the CEO of Brandwatch. And he was talking about how people are using AI to generate content. And it's drifting away from brand. And the example he gave, which I thought was brilliant was Tesla, mainly because I've just got a new Tesla. So I'm very excited about that. But he talks about Tesla and Tesla, and then their messaging, they talk about performance, they talk about safety, they talk about fun, they actually don't talk about luxury. But if you start trying to get chat GPT, or any other AI to write emails, it tends to drift towards luxury, because Tesla is a somewhat premium car in terms of cost. And so it tends to start measuring luxury, which is very much off brand. In fact, we had a discussion about this, internally, I ran a little test. And I think of the five emails that it generated. Two were completely off brand. Two were okay. And one was basically illegal, it focused entirely on speed, which is not the thing you can do, certainly in the UK. So I think AI personalised emails is going to be interesting, but I definitely think there's going to be a space for some sort of control on the brand. You can see AI going crazy and potentially writing in cockney, to someone from East London, when they're trying to sell a Rolls Royce. You can see Vinnie Jones receiving a company style email about Rolls Royce, that probably isn't on brand.

Hannah: I love this perspective. Mike, I think you've raised some really key issues there. And it's interested in I mean, we've just put out a blog on our predictions for 2024. And one of them focused on math personalization with AI. And it's interesting, because brand is so vital. But also, it's almost a warning to marketers in a sense, because it's absolutely use AI to help you. But you've really still need that human touch, you need to be checking this AI content, you need to be making sure that what AI is delivering is actually communicating your message. And we're linking it back to your Tesla story. That's such a good example because you wouldn't think of it in that sense. But, you know, a key message of Tesla isn't luxury. So making sure you're checking that content, I think is such a key point.

Mike: Yeah, I think you've summarised it really well and I love that. One of the other things related to email Probably perhaps not quite as exciting as AI is the new rules for bulk email senders that have been implemented by Google and Yahoo. I mean, you obviously manage our marketing automation platform. So have you seen the impact? Or can you explain maybe what the rules are? And then tell us what the impact you've seen us?

Hannah: Yes. So I saw this as well. And I'd be interested to get your thoughts as well, Mike, because I haven't seen a big impact at the moment. But there's going to be three key areas that basically they're going to stamp down on if you like. So that's the authentication of outgoing emails, reported spam rates, and then also the ability to easily unsubscribe from email lists. So for example, emails need to have a really clear button, you know, they're typically in the footer that allow you to unsubscribe straight away. Now, obviously, the interesting thing is, is that we typically send to perhaps a lot of business emails. So we typically go into Outlook, we don't really send to a lot of Gmail or Yahoo direct emails. So I haven't seen an impact as yet. But do you think that will change as the year goes through?

Mike: Well, I do think there's one factor you need to bear in mind. And that is that some people have a Gmail account or a Yahoo account that they use for, you know, the kind of marketing emails that you get. So rather than use their business account, if they sign up for a newsletter, they'll use a Gmail or Yahoo address. So I think maybe in some spaces, there's more use of Gmail and Yahoo. So I think it will have an impact. But I think very quickly, marketers will cottoned on to what's happening. I mean, to be honest, my biggest shock was that they said, the average spam complaint rate across the B2B space was 2%, which is incredibly high, much higher, certainly than we see. Or our clients seen, it makes me feel that there's an awful lot of email being sent with very, very poor targeting is far more concerning than people not having a very clear opt out button on email.

Hannah: I mean, that's a really good point, Mike, because if it's poor targeting, then the effort you're putting into the emails anyway, it's not going to count. Absolutely.

Mike: So, you know, I think people will actually move and make changes to meet these regulations, because they're very well defined. But, you know, marketer sout there think how well you're actually targeting people when you send email. Because if you're seeing spam complaint rates of 2%, or even 1%, that's a real problem. And you should be doing something very urgently to try and fix it, and make sure you're sending content that people actually want to see.

Hannah: Brilliant point, Mike. And I think that actually segues quite nicely into our insightful Tip of the Week, because this week, I would like to talk about designing your email for its purpose. So you know, today we've spoken a lot about making sure that the content within your email is good. But I also think that the design of your email for its purpose is important. So for example, when I send an email perhaps to a prospect, I'm personalising it, I want to make it seem that it's come from me and not a marketing automation system. I perhaps do a more blank canvas, no Napier logo, we've been speaking. But if I'm saying that our Napier news newsletter, I want to make sure this is engaged in I wanted to have colour and wanted to have images. And I think it's really important that marketers need to understand there's different ways that email should be sent. And the design can sometimes be as important as the base of the content.

Mike: Absolutely agree. And I think you know what you're saying, if you've got one simple message, you don't need a complex HTML template. So send an email that is or looks like plain text. And people can get straight to the content and read it and focus your effort on the copy. But a newsletter is very different. A newsletter is really trying to let people select the stories that they're interested in from a whole list of different news items. And so I think you're absolutely right, their design is super important, and also making it very easy to scan. So when you say more engaging with more images. I think that's important because not only does it make it more interesting, but it actually makes it easier to scan for the content that's relevant to you. Absolutely.

Hannah: I think that was beautifully summarised Mike. So thank you so much for joining me of another episode of the mountain automation moment.

Mike: Thanks very much, Hannah.

Hannah: Thanks for listening to the marketing automation moment podcast.

Mike: Don't forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we'll see you next time.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Rob May - BrandGuard

Staying within brand guidelines can be a challenge, and as the use of AI in marketing rises, this will become increasingly difficult. Rob May, founder of BrandGuard, explains how solving user challenges transformed his platform from what was initially an advertising platform into an entirely different product that uses AI to identify branding issues.

He shares his career journey, how the rise in generative AI drew him back into the start-up space, how different AI models work, and the impact he believes AI will have over the next five years.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About BrandGuard

BrandGuard is an AI-powered brand governance platform that helps ensure brand consistency in customer facing assets, such as advertisements, generated by both humans and machines.

About Rob

Rob May is the founder and CEO of BrandGuard and is a leading figure in the field of generative AI and brand safety. With his extensive background in entrepreneurship and angel investing, Rob brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the table.

Time Stamps

[00:43.3] – Rob discusses His career journey and why he founded BrandGuard.

[01:47.5] – Rob goes into detail about BrandGuard, its beginnings and what it does.

[12:33.0] – Rob explains some off the issues with branding in AI content.

[16:10.0] – Who can use BrandGuard? Rob discusses what businesses can benefit.

[18:45.6] – Rob shares his thoughts on how AI is going to change marketing.

[22:59.8] – Rob’s contact details.

Follow Rob:

Rob May on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robmay/

BrandGuard website: https://www.brandguard.ai/

BrandGuard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/brandguard-ai/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Rob May - BrandGuard

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Rob May

Mike: Thanks for listening to Marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I've got Rob May, who's the founder and CEO of BrandGuard joining me. Welcome to the podcast. Rob.

Rob: Thanks for having me.

Mike: 

It's great to have you on. So, you know, you obviously founded BrandGuard. But let's start off by taking a little step back and finding out how you got to the point of, you know, wanting to found the company. So, can you tell me a little bit about your career journey?

Rob: Yeah, so I am a electrical engineer and a chip designer by training. So that's where I got my start. And I always knew I wanted to get into startups. So I, after a couple years of doing chip design, I joined a startup, then joined another startup, then started my first company back in 2009. And so that in 2014, the first one did really well, otherwise, I don't know that I'd still be doing it. So then I started a second company, the second company did not go well. Then I went into VC for a couple of years. And I saw this generative AI wave happening and decided I had to come back out of VC and do a little more operating. So started my third company, which actually spawned the technology that became BrandGuard. It wasn't the focus initially of the third company, but it led to the creation of Vanguard.

Mike: That's great. And obviously, all the great people started electronics engineers, I don't know if you know, I started my career as an electronics engineer as well during board level design.

Rob: Exactly. That's awesome.

Mike: Can you tell me a little bit about how you decided to apply AI? And what brand God does?

Rob: Yeah, well, we started with the idea that you could use generative AI to create hyper, personalised marketing and scale. So think about the idea that, you know, you're going to sell a pencil, you know, if you were going to sell them a nice mechanical pencil, you have a couple of personas, you're going to write ads for those personas. But what if you could speak to everybody differently, right, a 19 year old college student who's really into mechanical pencils in the Pacific Northwest, may want a very different image and freezing in their ads than a 75 year old, you know, writer who loves to use mechanical pencils for nostalgic reasons, who lives in, you know, southern Florida or whatever. And so, imagine if you could really use your vi as Chet GPT, here's 1000 different personas to buy my pencil write me a different ad for everyone. So that's kind of what we created. And it worked really well. But there were two problems. One problem was that it became obvious that the platforms were gonna do this in cells. So Google and Facebook, were going to build in this functionality. And the second problem was that we would show this to CMOS, and they would say, see, I'm not a brand person, I'm an enterprise software person.

So I didn't realise that, like, if you're a brand person, you obsess over minutiae about how things look and how things are phrased. And so you might say, if you sell bottled water, you might say, we'll say purified, but never filtered. Right? Or you may say, you know, you have a certain imagery of the model that you're using in an ad. And you may say, like, no, no, she can, she can have a wrist tattoo, but not an arm tattoo she could like, are people that were catering to look like this and not like this, and like, these minor things matter, you know, she, she would sit with her legs this way at the table, like all these, all these little things. And so what would happen is we would show our tool to these markers. And they would say, well, that's great, you're gonna create 5000 Hyper targeted ads for me, that's awesome. I have to review them all you've created work for me. So we took a step back, and we were like, well, could we teach machines to understand brands and branding? And it turns out, you can, it's a very hard problem, what we what we did was, we built a series of tools you can think about, it's not like a machine learning model. It's dozens of machine learning models. And we ingest brand guidelines, previous versions of, of content that a brand has produced. And then we built what we call a brand governance platform that takes these things, breaks them down into models, and in the models check, is the stuff you produced on brand is it meet the brand guidelines, you know, it started as a feature of this ad product, like we're going to create ads and the ads are on brand. And it just became the whole platform. We don't do any ad generation anymore. We just whether humans create the ads or machines create the ads, we just run them through our series of models. We provide scores and feedback and analysis and all that kind of stuff. So it's it's pretty cool technology.

Mike: So you're doing that checking of 5000 different ads that the person who's responsible for brand didn't want to do. Yeah,

Rob: or even we, you know, even even people that just are don't have an AI process and are just doing hundreds of ads per month. We frequently hear but so let's say you're using an agency and the agency designers are working on lots of different projects. They don't have your whole Till 10, or 40, or 80 Page brand guidelines memorised in their head all the time that they're working on, you know, they make mistakes. And we constantly hear that about a third to half the time people are looking at content saying like, no, this doesn't meet the brand guidelines, go back and do it again. And what they want is they want a tool that takes that first pass. So now the humans would say, don't send it to me for approval until it's past BrandGuard.

Mike: Okay, so you're actually doing that first pass before it appears with humans? I mean, one of the things that I think is interesting from this is, do you think this world where everybody gets a personalised email is actually going to happen? Or do you think enterprises they actually want to preserve their brand? They want some consistency on brand. And they actually don't want these hyper personalised emails being sent out?

Rob: Well, I think they're, I think they're trying to do both, right. So we'll, we'll see if it works. But the way you can think of it as like, they might use similar phrasing, like, obviously, you know, Nikes tagline is just do it. And they're not going to change that tagline for me and you or anybody else. But a lot of their imagery is like people running in the Pacific Northwest, where there's Nike, or in Colorado, where a lot of athletes train, but might they benefit from showing people running in, you know, the beach, or, you know, I'm in New York and downtown Manhattan, Central Park, you can see that having an impact without changing a lot of what Nikes trying to do. So So I think there's gonna be a lot of experimentation to get there, I think it will move the needle. But there's going to be a counterweight, right, which is, humans get tired of these things. I mean, every time something becomes a best practice, like, oh, man, these notifications, and these NPS scores, kill me. Because the more products you use, the more people have you that just want you to take a one minute survey. And it's like, I can't take 91 minute surveys in a day just because I interacted with that many products. So we got to find better ways to give and get feedback and interact with customers in ways that respect what they're doing. So it'd be interesting to see how these multiple forces evolve in this scenario.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think it was interesting. I've now got visions of everyone in the UK getting pictures of people running in the pouring rain from Nike. Yeah. I hopefully won't get to that. Anyway, going back to BrandGuard. So something you mentioned earlier that I found quite interesting was that you fed the AI system, you trained it on the brand guidelines, but also on past content. So presumably, one of the things you found is that there are explicit brand guidelines, things that, you know, are written down are very clear. But there's also kind of tacit brand guidelines that are kind of held within the heads of people. Is that what you're trying to address and understand?

Rob: Yeah, so there's a lot of lot to unpack in that question. We see people with 150 page, well defined style guides, and we see people who barely have anything written down except a handful of brand guidelines. One of the things we hear a lot of times from agencies is, can you help us help the clients better define their brand, because they know what they want, they haven't been explicit about it. We're building a module into BrandGuard called Brand Builder that allows you to define and capture those rules. But we already do a creative job of capturing three simple rules, like the spacing around the logo has to be displayed, a logo can't be turned this way, right. And there's more complicated rules, I think we've seen some fun ones, like no images can show a child using technology without an adult present. That's a hard brand guideline to teach a machine. And so we have an entire synthetic data pipeline that will create pro and con images that put them into a model so that the model can learn that rule. But yeah, you know, it's one of the interesting things about this space, compared to a lot of other use cases of AI is there a lot of ways where AI is going to get better than humans. But in this case, humans sort of define the brand. And maybe we'll get to the point where AI can make suggestions about how you might want to move your brand, which directions which attributes or values, you might want to focus on more than others. But by and large, humans will define brands, brand values, training and datasets for the brand related models. And so I think it's a really good place to be if you're working in AI for that reason, because like you said, so much of it is in people's heads and, you know, you need workflows to sort of get that out and capture as much of it as possible. We also do it through the regular feedback, right? You could we could score something high or low and you could dispute it you can say no, no, this should have been scored a different way and here's why.

Mike: So it's interesting to continually retraining that model. I'm interested when you try and build that that style guide in the AI if you like in the AIS head I don't know if that's the right way to express it. Does it help to have things that are off brand and on brand or do you just feed it the past content that's been approved?

Rob: It helps to have things that are off brand as well. So a lot of times we'll pull some public competitor data, you know, from Nike, we would pull Adidas, just to contrast because that's, you know, I don't know how deep you go in the AI space, but these things are basically mapped to a mathematical space that focuses on similarity. And so if you can say, these things shall be similar to each other in this mathematical As a nice should not you can think of us as drawing a brand boundary in that mathematical space around what's on brand? And what's not.

Mike: And I mean, you've mentioned a few things. But is there any limit to the kind of content that the system can, you know, assess for compliance with brand guidelines? Can it go through to tweets and, and things like that, as well as articles and images?

Rob: I would say it's built first and foremost for marketing materials, primarily advertisements, but we can do a lot of stuff, you know, tweets, tweets are a little bit harder, because they're so short. And the less information that you have, the less accurate you're going to be about if something's on brand or not. Twitter, social media platforms are also an area where you try to be a little maybe more kitschy than you would be in other, you know, types of marketing materials, you're trying to be funny, you're trying to tie to memes, we can pick up on some of that, you know, is this a meme that your brand should want to tie to or not? We do a lot with some of the Instagram influencer use cases, we've been asked to do some some things we're not we're not working on this actively. But we've looked at doing PowerPoint presentations. If you're a consulting firm or real estate firm, you're doing a lot of presentations to people about things, right, you want to make sure those are all on brand for your firm. And you know how people get in and walk around with PowerPoint and change everything. So even if you have templates, it's not right, we've been asked to do product packaging and, and other use cases like that. There's a big use case around licencing as well. So if your sports team and you're, I'm licencing you my logo so that you can use it, I probably have to approve the product shot and the marketing materials around it. And that's very time consuming if you're doing a lot of licencing. So we've we have some customers that have that use case as well.

Mike: Presumably, what you're doing is you're coming back with a score rather than necessarily, yes, it's on brand. No, it's off. I mean, there's always Shades of Grey. I mean, how do you do that? Do you literally provide a score? We do

Rob: we provide a score and some feedback on specific models. So you can decide what to do with that we give you an overall score. But sometimes it could be like, everything's great. But you know, maybe you have a rule that the logo always has to be in the upper left hand side of the page, and it's in the bottom right. And so maybe it scores at 9%, everything's good, but the logo totally fails, we highlight that information for you. And then you can drill down and see where the asset fail.

Mike: That's interesting. I mean, I'm intrigued, you know, people are starting now to use generative AI to create some content marketing content. Do you see humans as being better at staying within the brand guidelines? Or would AI actually be more likely to stay within those guardrails?

Rob: Probably humans. And the reason is that the way that most of these generative models work, and this may change, right, people may come up with a better way that these generative models work. But today, the way they work is you take this world of information and you compress it down into a space. So you can think about a you can think about a song that's compressed, and it's lost some of its fidelity. So think about these ideas, or these images with these words that have done that. And now when you ask it to generate something, it finds an area in that mathematical space that we talked about, and it expands it by introducing some randomness. And so by that randomness, you can never tell what's going to come out. It's a big problem. One of the one of the early examples that we used to do is we would prompt chat GPT with the Tesla style guide and test the rule number one is do not use the word luxury Tesla's not a luxury brand. It is a high performance brand. And then you would we would ask chat, GBT, right, some ads for me to sell Tesla's to rich people and the first one every time they would come out and be like, blah, blah, blah, don't you love luxury, even when you prompted it with the brand guidelines, because luxury and rich are so tied together statistically, in these models, which is how these models work, it's hard for them to break, you can't make it part of the model generation itself. So you need filters over top of it. And I just we don't think it makes sense for every generative AI company to do their own filtering regarding your brand. Because now as a brand manager, if you have 30 tools in your stack, and you have to go through and be like, Okay, well, you know, I'm using open AI and Jasper and WordPress and HubSpot, and figma and Canva. And I have to manage my brand governance piece at all of them. And they'll have slightly different models. So it's not consistent like this, it's not going to work. It's why we've really tried to integrate it with everything because you need one tool that's like this represents my brand to an AI. So we're very heavy on the integration side. We work with figma and Canva, and a whole bunch of other tools today.

Mike: I'm gonna guess we started that that answer talking about, you know, some of the issues around generative AI and it getting a little bit of peace, you know, partly because of the randomness. I mean, how consistently good can I be at enforcing brand guidelines? You know, we hear a lot about hallucinations in generative AI. Do you have the same problem in brand God? We

Rob: don't because we are not generative models we are what's called discriminative models. So we are choosing between things we are not creating things and the hallucinations come from the randomness sits inserted in the creation process. So that's why we sit on top of all these generative models, we can get really, really good. But we can only get as good as the data that we're given to discriminate. And as you know, like brands, an area where sometimes even people on a company, senior people may argue over some aspects of the brand. And if something's on brand or not, there's somebody you know, we see people that have companies that have like usual, big lovable nerd is a brand voice concept. It's like, well, like what does that mean, that's open to interpretation. So that there will always be a little bit of that, we try to focus on providing easy, quick, automated rejection, for stuff that doesn't meet the brand guidelines, and human in the loop approval for stuff that does or may be on the margins.

Mike: That sounds good. And I thought it was a great explanation of the difference between what you're doing and guarantee of AI, I think it's all too common for people to you know, see my eyes just one thing when it's lots of different things. One of the things I'm intrigued in this, you're actually effectively building custom models for each and every customer, which is obviously time consuming. Does that make brand garden expensive products? Is this like only for the largest enterprises? Or is it something can be used by a broader range of customers?

Rob: Well, that most of the process for training models on a per customer basis is automated. So we've gotten pretty efficient at that. So even though we do build different models per customer, they're based on similar workflows, you input your data, and we can we can sort of get there. So that doesn't really drive the cost as much as how much inference you want to do, which is how many things do you want to test to see if they're on brand. So it's, it's a product that starts at about $20,000 a year for small to mid sized customer, and goes on up to you know, mid six figures, maybe for really big brands that to a lot of stuff have multiple brand hierarchies. I think over the years, this will become best practice for everybody. But right now we primarily see most of our customers are, I'd say, like fortune 5000 brands right there, the brand matters a lot to them, we've had CMOS tell us, they can estimate how much revenue they lose if an ad goes out with the wrong font. So, you know, really big companies with a lot of data on the impact that brand guidelines have on their brand and on and on customer perception. So that is the majority of our market now. But I do think it's coming down market over time. And

Mike: I mean, one of the questions, I think people, you know, interested in the product might wonder is how would they go about evaluating the product. I mean, obviously, you can't just run a, you know, one week test, you've got to build the models, is there a way for someone to experiment without having to commit to a year subscription? We do, we have test

Rob: accounts you can play with. So we use flex brothers a lot, we have a Brooks Brothers demo account where you can read the brand guidelines, you can upload stuff, and that'll give you a general feel for how the tool works. And then what we normally do is we normally move to some sort of paid pilot that might be like 10, grand, maybe a little bit more, depending on how big you are, where we take in some of your data and train up some models, that process normally takes about 48 hours to get that going. And then people can try it out for a couple of months and play around with it. You know, the bigger challenge tends to be internally, how do you build it into your workflows? Your workflows have probably been mostly human based approvals? How do you migrate those over to a tool like this?

Mike: That's amazing, because I mean, 48 hours to get up and running seems very quick. So you know, sounds like it's actually not a difficult tool to evaluate and test and play with them. Certainly, the Brooks demo account sounds fun. Yeah,

Rob: it is, it is pretty easy to get going. And I just mentioned, there's multiple ways to use it. There's a web app, there's a Chrome plugin, there's an API. So we have people that use all those

Mike: awesome. I'm, you know, you're obviously a big believer in AI. And, you know, you found an area of marketing that really benefits from Ai. I mean, how do you think AI in the next five years is going to change marketing,

Rob: I think you're gonna see every marketing stack become more automated and more AI powered. And I think what that's going to do so if you look at a lot of the research around AI, it doesn't improve the top, it brings up the bottom. So here's a very interesting example, think about chat, GPT. Chat GPT does probably not make your world class writers much better. Maybe it'll inspire them here and there with some ideas, but it makes your poor writers average, much, much better, right? So so take the bottom half of writers, it makes them average, take the you know, next quartile makes them a little bit better take your best writers, it doesn't do that much for them. So now, what does that mean? If you translate AI into your automated marketing stack, it means that if you look at your marketing, operational excellence, and your creativity and all kinds of stuff, all the people at the bottom are going to now be up here. And so your, your difference between the best and the worst is going to shrink, mainly because the bottom comes up. Not that not because the top comes down. It's going to be easier to be a competent sort of performance marketer or, you know, brand marketer just from these tools. It'll always be hard to be great because you have to have something special. You have to have a process or an insight or things that other people don't have But I think a lot of what's gonna go away is a lot of your operations are going to be automated, it's gonna do a couple things. Number one, it's gonna make brand strength more important. So focusing on building the brand, really honing those attributes and values and how they connect to the customer. And what they mean in the mind of the customer is gonna be really important, even for smaller companies that maybe thought less about their brand before. And then I think the second thing is, marketers are going to become more and more strategic planners, trainers for the AI models, strategists continually being creative and coming up with new ideas to test and innovate and, and stuff like that, and less of the right me 10 more Google ads for this persona.

Mike: That's fascinating. I mean, one of the things we'd like to ask all our guests is, what advice would they give if someone said, Should I go into marketing someone just leaving college or entering college? I'm intrigued, it sounds like it's potentially gonna be tough, you know, particularly if you're in that, that bottom half of marketing ability to, to really stand out, would you would you say that marketing's a career that's got a lot of opportunity going forward? Or do you think AI is going to make it more and more difficult to stand out?

Rob: I think it's already playing the stack. I think brand marketing and content marketing, PR com stuff like that is gonna matter a lot more. I think your fast turn stuff like social and performance marketing is going to be more and more automated away. So which is interesting, because if you'd asked me, you know, seven years ago, I'd say well, oh, God, you want to be the person who masters Google, and Facebook advertising, right? Like that's drives so many people's leads. Now, I think you'd be the opposite. I think you want to work on being the most creative, the most experimental, the best at using these AI tools to test and experiment and prove or disprove hypotheses about your customers.

Mike: That's, that's such a fascinating way to look at it. And I think a very positive view of some of the opportunities. Another thing we'd like to ask everyone is about marketing advice. And what's the best bit of marketing advice that you've ever been given? Oh,

Rob: that's a good question. I mean, this is a hard thing to pull off. And not every brand can pull it off. But there was a book that was written probably 20 years ago now called Purple Cow by Seth Godin. And he made this great point that like, you know, if you're a farm that for whatever reason, produces this freakish Purple Cow, you don't have to market it, everybody talks about it, because it stands out. Now. There are certain categories that people just don't care about as much. And it's hard to stand out and be remarkable. But if you can make a product that that's, it's that remarkable, it really markets itself, and that, that that matters quite a bit. And so I think when you can find those opportunities, you should really, really lean into them, because they're very special. Great advice,

Mike: I love it. Rob, you've been really generous with your time, you've given us not only a great explanation about managing brands, and how brands can help, but also think given us a really good overview of, you know, some elements of AI. If people are interested to learn more, either about BrandGuard or contact yourself, what's the best way to do that, feel free

Rob: to visit our website BrandGuard.ai. And then you can email me, I'm just rob at brain guard.ai. I can't get to everybody sometimes. But I you know, I do try to set aside a couple hours a month to talk to people that are interested in AI making career transitions, you know, we try to one of our core values as a company is to be helpful. And that includes people in the AI ecosystem and marketing systems. So we, you know, like I say, can't get to everybody, but I did try to set aside some time to answer questions and help us stuff like that for the, you know, even strangers that email me.

Mike: But that's amazing and very generous. Rob, it's been great. And you know, anyone who's struggling, managing content and making sure it meets brand guidelines. I think, you know, going visiting brand garden AI would be a great next step to take. Thank you very much for being on the podcast, Rob.

Rob: Yeah, thanks for having me. This was fun.

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.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Sara Madison - Outbrain

Sara Madison, Global Head of Product Marketing at Outbrain, an advertising platform, sat down with Mike to talk all things advertising. She discusses the industry's current challenges, why she believes audience attention will become an increasingly important metric and offers her thoughts on whether LinkedIn is a good use of a B2B advertising budget.

She also discusses her passion for product marketing and how her experience in both large enterprises and start-ups has influenced her career.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Outbrain

Outbrain is a leading technology platform that drives business results by engaging people across the open internet. Outbrain predicts moments of engagement to drive measurable outcomes for advertisers and publishers using AI and machine learning across more than 7,000 online properties globally. Founded in 2006, Outbrain is headquartered in New York with offices in Israel and across the United States, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and South America.

About Sara

Sara, who is the Global Head of Product Marketing Outbrain, is a digital media specialist with experience designing and leading strategic initiatives in startups and large organizations. She has a track record helping organizations solve issues, create value, maximize growth and improve business performance with a highly analytical approach.

 Time Stamps

[00:46.1] – Sara discusses her career journey in marketing.

[03:47.7] – Sara talks about Outbrain, what it is and its capabilities.

[06:48.8] – Sara discusses challenges in the advertising industry.

[13:19.2] – Sara shares how Microsoft successfully used Outbrain to support a campaign.

[17:52.4] – Is LinkedIn a good use of B2B advertising budget? Sara shares her opinions.

[26:11.9] – Sara’s contact details.

Quotes

“Approach marketing with an open mind, it's important to be curious and to be open to learning things before committing on a specific path.” Sara Madison, Global Head of Product Marketing at Outbrain.

 Follow Sara:

Sara Madison on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sara-madison-21028434/

Outbrain website: https://www.outbrain.com/

Outbrain on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/outbrain/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Sara Madison - Outbrain

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Sara Madison

Mike: Thanks for listening to Marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by Sara Madison. Sara is the Global Head of Product Marketing at Outbrain. Welcome to the podcast, Sara.

Sara: Hi, thank you. Thank you for having me here.

Mike: It's great to have you on. And I think we're gonna have an interesting discussion about what Outbrain does, and some of the things people are doing to increase engagement. But before we start, can you just tell us a little bit about you know, your history and how you've got to the point where you're running marketing at Outbrain? Yeah,

Sara: perfect. I've been working in advertising and marketing for almost 15 years now. I started working in Spain, that's where he did my studies. And now I'm working in in the UK. And in those 15 years, I've really done many different roles within the space. So I worked with brands, creating visuals, and creating good looking collateral. I've worked as sales really working with agencies and pitching to clients. And I've also had more technical positions where I've been working closely with engineers, and actually seeing how they were building the products and really needing to understand the underlying technology that my clients were using. And so all of this experience in different companies, you know, small companies, large companies, really brought me into product marketing, that, you know, having a view of sales, marketing, and how product works, really is that key piece of Product Marketing, it's an extremely cross functional area within marketing. And I really love the strategic aspect of it. So really, on a day to day, I'm using all of my past experiences in product marketing. So that's, that's what brought me into Product Marketing. And today, I am heading up the global product marketing team at Outbrain. I've been here for about a year now. And and yeah, I'm really loving it.

Mike: It works with some interesting brands, I mean, both consumer and also B2B, haven't you? Yes,

Sara: the first role that I had was that Coca Cola and the communications teams are really seeing how you build a brand across traditional media and digital media. I've also worked at Yahoo, and seeing how how they did like branded content selling. My most recent role was at Spotify, where I was working in the product marketing team, and I was the first person in the advertising product marketing team based outside of the US. And so there, I was really establishing and landing the product marketing function for the rest of the world. So also working out what international market strategy looks like. So yeah, I mean, I've definitely worked at many different companies, I've also worked for a few startups that aren't as well known. And so I think it was really great to see how, you know, larger companies that have a larger name or a more established name, work, and also working at startups that aren't as well known in the industry.

Mike: It sounds like you've had, like this incredible range of experience. And you've now chosen to come to Outbrain. So maybe a good place to move on to explain what Outbrain has done. And I'm sure you know, people listening probably will have seen Outbrain out there on the web, or if not, you know, if they don't recognise it would have certainly encountered what you do. So can you explain a little bit about what Outbrain does?

Sara: Yeah, of course. So Outbrain is an ad platform. And what we do is we connect to advertisers with over 1.3 billion users across the open web every day. And so the way that the business work is that on the one hand, we partner with 1000s, of publishers, to help them drive audience development, help them monetize their audience. And we also provide them with tools to be able to diversify their own revenue streams. And so this is an extremely hot topic for publishers today. And on the flip side, we work with advertisers and we connect them with audiences, through ads that really coexist with the content that users are consuming on publisher sites. So that's, you know, our ad platform is really connecting the two. And the differentiation or the strength of the Outbrain ad platform is that we're able to understand and predict what audiences are going to be interested in and what content or ads they're most likely to engage with, and then click on ads. And the way that we do this is with our prediction engine. So for, I think it's like 17 years now Outbrain has been, you know, creating its own proprietary Prediction Engine. And it's something that is extremely powerful. And it allows us to connect with, you know, with users with the most relevant ads and content. And the Outbrain ad platform really does do that combination of things. It helps publishers drive revenues, it helps advertisers reach audiences. And at the same time, it allows users or it really brings relevant content to users. And

Mike: you do this with a slightly different approach to sort of, you know, classic banner advertising, you're kind of recommending content on your both organic content and also paid. Can you talk a little bit about what you're doing there and why you mix the two? Yeah,

Sara: that's a really key part of our offering, it's it's extremely important for us to balance content or editorial content and ads and finding that that right mix to be able to drive the revenues that we need to drive for publishers and the outcomes that we need to drive for advertisers. But at the same time, we need to make sure that we are engaging the users. And we know that engagement is really driven by content that users are, you know, want to interact with and that they're interested in. So we do really provide that balance between ads and content.

Mike: So it's great that let's look back. I mean, last year wasn't the best year for the advertising industry, a lot of people struggled. But I think also at the same time, you had some high. So do you want to tell me about, you know, what happened last year? And what Outbrain is doing going into 2024? Yeah, definitely.

Sara: 2023 was a tough year for advertising in general, we saw widespread budget cuts. And the cost of living crisis really meant that everyone was really squeezed in the space. So I think that 2023 was one of those years where it just really highlighted the importance of having a strong strategy and really focusing on efficiency. And right now, that's something that Outbrain has really been laser focused on. So, you know, we've seen that in the last year. Roi is, you know, just more important than ever, and advertisers, we want to see real, measurable results. And not just for conversions, but really in every stage of the user journey. And so, while 2023 was a rough year, we also saw it as an opportunity to continue to build on our strengths and start to develop products that are going to continue to address these evolving advertiser needs. And so that's why, you know, in 2023, we launched onyx, which is a new offering that really helps us deliver attention and engagement for brands and agencies. So for enterprise, advertisers. And so with this incorporation of onyx, now, we are able to continue to answer to that growing need for ROI throughout the funnel, delivering cross funnel outcomes with our ad suite.

Mike: And can you just unpack I mean, you talk a lot about attention and engagement. So, you know, what are you doing there? Is it driving people to content through paid? Just explain a little bit about what advertisers get when you talk about those two things?

Sara: Yeah, definitely. Attention, I think is something that that we're really focusing on, especially with our Onyx offering, I can give you more detail into what Onyx is and how we're using attention to drive results for brands. Onyx is really an attention centric offering. As I mentioned, our key segment or the key segment that we're going after is enterprise brands and agencies. With onyx, we're able to allow these advertisers to deliver rich video and display creatives in highly viewable placements with 100% Share of Voice. So Onyx is being delivered in highly viewable placements with experiences that drive great user engagement. And what makes Onyx exciting is our ability to predict audience attention. And so this is where the intention piece comes in. Onyx is powered by our prediction engine or the Outbrain Prediction Engine. So we're using that strength in our ability to look at different data points from across our network and use that to power our prediction engine to be able to deliver outcomes for brands. So what makes Onyx really exciting is that we're able to predict audience attention. And the way that we do this is the backbone or what is powering Onyx is really our prediction engine. It's our ability to look at different data points from across our network to be able to predict certain engagement. And now we are using attention as a data point that we are leveraging to really drive results for brands and agencies. So attention is actually turning into something that we are optimising for, we are measuring and we're optimising attention, the way that we're optimising attention is working with industry providers. So with partners that are measuring attention throughout the open web, and and they are really providing us with these data points that then we can then use to, to drive these, these outcomes. And

Mike: that's interesting, you've got this engine effectively, that is working out what people want to see and trying to feed it the right content, are you building those models, you know, on a per client basis, on a company by company basis, or is it much more about, you know, industries and sectors, the way

Sara: that we that we power our prediction engine is by really collecting all of those data points from across our network. And using that to power, different campaigns that different advertisers are, are setting up. So we will really adapt that prediction based on what the advertisers goals are or what type of content or audience they they want to engage with. So the Prediction Engine will adapt to the needs of the different advertisers and whatever campaign outcomes they they want to achieve.

Mike: That sounds great. I mean, it feels to me a little bit that maybe it's built around very large campaigns, you know, the sort of consumer advertisers, but I think you do work with B2B. So can you talk a little bit about how you can work with B2B and maybe deal with, you know, the fact that some of those budgets aren't quite as big as coke?

Sara: Yeah, definitely. So our brains ad platform doesn't only cater to B2C advertisers, we also are able to deliver solutions for B2B. As I mentioned before, the platform is really able to adapt to different types of advertisers needs. So you know, to give you an example, some B2B advertisers will really prioritise branded content, and this can be very crucial for them. And we can create personalised user journeys that will help attract audiences to that content, and help them you know, using our prediction engine to generate leads, and continue to build brand awareness. And when it comes to the budgets, as you mentioned, we are quite flexible. So it really is, is a platform that can adapt to different needs.

Mike: But I'm really pleased, Sara, you said that you do a lot of B2B because we'd have been trouble if you didn't. But, you know, I think one of the things I'd be interested in is, you know, do you have some examples of maybe how B2B companies have used the platform successfully?

Sara: Yeah, definitely. We ran a very successful Microsoft campaign, Microsoft wanted to to drive leads for their field, one solution. So field one is a service management software that they offer to enterprise. And when they came to us, they were asking to, again, drive leads from their high value audiences. And so for this, they had created a site that was promoting a webinar, where they would provide audiences with information about field one services. So when they came to us, we set up a campaign for them, where we were able to connect relevant audiences to their site and increase their site conversion by 75%. So this was a very effective campaign for for Microsoft. One of the solutions that we use for this was conversion bid strategy. So this is one of our offerings, that does dynamic bidding, to be able to optimise campaigns towards higher performing inventory and audiences so that really was able to drive that growth that Microsoft saw on their sites. One of the most exciting things about this campaign was that Microsoft was running on social media as well. And Outbrain was able to deliver 180% more leads than social and 50% lower cost per acquisition compared to social so we really saw that we were extremely impactful for Microsoft in in that this B2B campaign and also we performs better than their social campaigns.

Mike: That's amazing that that's impressive. And it's good that you're not just talking about driving traffic, you're really looking at conversions. I think that's, that's important for a lot of B2B companies. And I think some people looking at Outbrain see it as being a traffic driver? And obviously a lot more than that. Exactly.

Sara: Definitely, we're not only driving traffic, we're for advertisers, we're generating value for the brands as well. And really looking at that funnel. So what can we do for brands, from awareness to consideration and all the way down to conversion?

Mike: That's brilliant. I'm going to ask you about a potential challenge. Now, it seems like Google, you know, at the time we're talking, is finally starting to block third party cookies on Chrome, having talked about it forever. I know you use a mix of different cookies for tracking. So what sort of impact do you think that's going to have on Outbrain? And I don't know, Sara, maybe do you want to comment on how it's going to impact online advertising as a whole? Yeah,

Sara: I mean, we've been talking about cookie deprecation for a while now, I do have to say that I think that Outbrain is well positioned to navigate this change, we have a data collection system that is coming from our own integrations with publishers, as I mentioned before, we work with 1000s of publishers across the open web. And through those integrations, we are able to collect our own data around the contexts, the interest, the user, even the campaign performance, these are all data points that we are using to be able to drive that prediction engine. So we are able to deliver effective advertising without relying or without having a huge reliance on third party cookies. And so as I mentioned, like, I do think that that's going to be something that is going to help us navigate and continue to deliver true results for advertisers. That said, we are actively exploring additional ways that we can meet advertisers needs and develop strategic partnerships with industry leaders in the targeting space. And we're also looking into developing more first party data solutions. So we are definitely looking into more things that we can do when it comes to targeting. But I would say that, that we we don't have that much of a reliance on third party cookies.

Mike: So that's really interesting. I mean, you're obviously delivering results, as you talked about when you talked about the Microsoft example. Yet we're still seeing in the B2B sector, LinkedIn taking a larger and larger share of display advertising. I mean, why do you think that is? Do you think that's really delivering the results that people want? Or do you think it's just an easy way to spend those advertising dollars?

Sara: I think that many B2B companies are looking at LinkedIn as a space where they could advertise, amongst other things, because it is a social platform. And because a lot of advertising in general is just starting to become very concentrated on the socials. I think that part of this is because a lot of time spent with users is happening on social platforms. And so the market is becoming very concentrated here. And that's not necessarily an ideal scenario for advertisers. I think that it's important to remember that users are consuming different types of content throughout the day, on socials and including on publisher sites on the open web. And the behaviour that users have in each environment is extremely different. I don't think that we can compare the way that users are scrolling through social. And you know, I don't even include LinkedIn, I am definitely scrolling through my LinkedIn feed to the behaviour that a user has when they're on a publisher site. And they are reading through an article, I think that there's an intentionality there, that's not necessarily what you will find on the social platforms. So I think that marketers should think about engaging with consumers in different ways throughout the day. So it's not necessarily choosing one environment over another. It's how can you close the gaps in that user journey and connect with users in in different ways? And, you know, really thinking about the attention that you're able to drive on the open web on publisher sites. And I think that marketers that are able to incorporate that attention from the open web into their media plans, are we going to be able to enhance their overall performance?

Mike: I think that's a great point, Sara, I'm intrigued that she I mean, how the publishers see Outbrain and put particularly interested in the B2B sector because obviously, in B2B, typically those publishers are generating much higher CPMs than maybe some of the consumer sites.

Sara: Yeah, we have great relationships with publishers, and some of our founders are coming from the publishing industry. So it's really part of our DNA. And our success is very tied to theirs. So I wouldn't say that we have issues with integrating with B2B publishers. The reason that I say this is because we have multiple ways that we can work with publishers, as I mentioned before, we work with publishers to drive audience development, monetization, and also revenue diversification. So it's a very flexible suite of solutions that we offer publishers, and so we really adapt to their individual needs.

Mike: That sounds great. I mean, you know, I can understand certainly today publishers being very keen to find additional sources of income. If our listeners are looking to run campaigns, and they want to test something on Outbrain. I mean, how easy is it to run a test campaign on outbound, you have to, you know, spend a lot of time learning and understanding the platform because it's different, or is it fairly straightforward,

Sara: it's, it's extremely straightforward, you can just go to outbrain.com. And choose if you're a publisher, and advertiser and fill in a form where someone will get in touch with you and help you get set up. And for example, for an advertiser, once you have access to our advertiser dashboard, you can go in and set up your own campaign goals, set up different formats, launch test campaigns, our solution is a fully self serve platform. So it's extremely easy to get started, we also have a help centre, and onboarding documents to make sure that the process is a lot easier.

Mike: And presumably, once you're set up, you can run small test campaigns before you start running out major ones, there's not minimum ad spends on those campaigns. Exactly. That sounds great. I mean, you've obviously done a lot of Outbrain to change the way people do digital advertising. I'm interested to know, you know, what's your view as to how advertising on the web is gonna change over the next few years?

Sara: Well, I think that we're all really seeing that the media landscape is fully shifting towards video first, consumption. And a lot of that consumption is happening on social platforms. So I think that open web players really need to adapt to this new reality. And we need to focus on attracting and engaging both audiences and advertisers through video first experiences. So that's definitely something that I think is going to is going to be top of mind for many players in the space. I think that there are also a few trends that we're starting to see that are really landing. We've talked about attention metrics before. But I think that attention metrics are going to evolve from nice to haves to potentially becoming currency. And another thing that hopefully we'll start seeing more of is how we are all starting to reimagine targeting, I think that we'll start seeing more creative targeting solutions that are more focused on things like outcomes, instead of demographics.

Mike: That's great. It sounds like you know, publishers need to pay attention to some of these trends as well as advertisers, I think particularly video is important. Yes. It's been really interesting talking to you, Sara, just like to ask a couple of more personal questions we'd like to ask people well, the first is, you know, what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Sara: I've had a lot of great advice. But one thing that I always go back to is that I remind myself to be data driven, and give myself the time for strategic thinking before taking action. I think it's easy to fall into a trap of simply doing things to go with the flow, especially when workloads are high. And we're really focusing on delivering, but taking time to actively use data to guide your decisions and then take really purposeful actions really does make a world of difference. So I definitely say that giving yourself the necessary time to stop, look at the data review, plan. And then act is is key.

Mike: I love adding as great advice. You seem really excited about the future of marketing. So I think the answer the next question would be quite positive. I mean, what would you tell a young person who was maybe considering marketing as a career, would you recommend it?

Sara: Of course, definitely. I mean, I really love marketing, I would say to that person to approach marketing with an open mind. Marketing is a massive field, and it has tonnes of areas of expertise. And I think that when you're coming into it, it's important to be curious and to be open to learning things before committing on a specific path. You know, to give you an example, when I started, I saw myself brainstorming at a creative agency. And now I'm in product marketing, and I'm loving it. And it's, it's a role that can be very technical at times. So really, my point is, don't limit yourself based on your initial thoughts of what you think marketing is. Spend some time to explore, try things out, and then who knows where you might find your passion within marketing. That's

Mike: great advice. I love that. Obviously, you know, if people want to try Outbrain, you've already said go to outbrain.com. But if people are particularly interested by something you've said or want to follow up, is there a way that the listeners could contact you after the episode?

Sara: Yeah, you can find me on LinkedIn, and you just have to search for Sara Madison. Brilliant.

Mike: Sara, this this has been fascinating. It's great to hear how much innovation that there is in advertising. So I think you know, this is a particularly interesting episode. I really appreciate your time. Thank you.

Sara: Thank you. Thank you so much for having 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.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Christopher Rack - MRP

Chris Rack, CEO of MRP, a demand generation solution, joins Mike Maynard to discuss intent signals, lead generation, and how MRP can help accelerate B2B businesses' demand generation activities.

Chris explains the benefits of aggregating different intent signal sources and why this can work better across different industries and services. He shares why direct mailers may be the best strategy when targeting C-level personas and why sales remains a vital ingredient in the sales/marketing mix.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About MRP

MRP is a demand generation platform connecting assumptive and deterministic engagement signals to help brands identify target accounts with the highest likelihood for conversion.

Time Stamps

[00:39.0] – Chris discusses his current role at MRP and his career journey.

[01:18.1] – Chris dives straight into what MRP delivers for its customers.

[07:45.4] – Chris offers his insights into how to target the bottom of the sales funnel and how direct mail might make the difference.

[14:05.0] – Sales is here to stay – Chris gives his thoughts on the vital role sales continues to play.

[17:38.3] – Chris discusses how MRP approaches its own marketing.

[20:55.8] – Chris shares some marketing advice.

[22:33.6] – Chris’s contact details.

Quotes

“Most of the conversations happening in B2B sales and marketing are about tactic... but those things are generally irrelevant if you have good timing.” Chris Rack, CEO at MRP.

“If you happen to know that a company is really, truly interested or has a challenge that your product can solve and you reach out to them - if your timing is good, your conversion rates are almost always good.” Chris Rack, CEO at MRP.

Follow Chris:

Chris Rack on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopherrack/

MRP website: https://www.mrpfd.com/about-mrp/

MRP on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/mrpfd/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Chris Rack - MRP

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Chris Rack

Mike: Thanks for listening to Marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. Today's guest is Chris Rack, who's the CEO of MRP. Welcome to the podcast, Chris.

Chris: Awesome. Thanks for having me. Happy to be here.

Mike: It's great to have you on now. We always like to start off, let's just learn a little bit about yourself and your career journey. So you can can you give us a bit of background and how your career has developed over the years?

Chris: Yes, I mean, I started out in sales in roughly 2004, I entered the the B2B demand generation space 2006 2007, I've been through a couple different roles ranging from I was a BDR. At one point, my last tenure was at a company called demand science. For six years as the Chief Revenue Officer of that company grew from very small, roughly 6 million, just over 100 million, and that six year timeframe. I started as the CEO of MRP, May of this year, so I'm right around seven months in and really enjoying it so far.

Mike: That's awesome. I mean, let's dive straight into MRP. Can you tell us a little bit about what the company does?

Chris: Yeah, so we're demand generation solutions provider, primarily in the B2B technology and enterprise space. So the core of what we do well, is we, I like to say we make the haystack smaller, right. So we have a nice piece of technology that identifies companies that are showing propensity to buy across roughly 700 product categories. And then, unlike most vendors in this space, we just deliver that data and let the marketing team kind of do what they do with it. We monetize through a series of solutions or services to drive. In essence, what are leads for the B2B technology marketers, so top of funnel leads all the way down to, you know, very down funnel leads driven by my US based call centre in Philadelphia. So I guess that's probably describes it as simply as I can.

Mike: So it's interesting. So it sounds like you're a mix between marketing technology all the way down to actually execution with a call centre, is that right?

Chris: That is correct, I found over my my career is that there are so many marketing tech products, and the stack is so big that it can be a bit daunting for a marketer to take on a new technology can also take a lot of time to implement. And there's some costs associated there. So we monetize on the services end of it, because it's generally easier to execute on right. And we could do it on, you know, a more per lead or more per monetization basis, which a lot of customers in our space.

Mike: That's sounds like a really good solution for a lot of marketers who maybe a time press they want they want good results. You talk about the database, can you give us a little bit of background about what you're doing to understand this propensity to buy? I mean, how do you know whether someone's ready to buy.

Chris: So we probably heard of the phrase intent, it's quite the buzzword over the past two or three years. So we're not dissimilar. I believe that a little differently that most vendors have a single source of intent that they'll, they'll leverage across their data set, right, whether it's a bid stream or website engagement across a network of sites, or something of that nature, I believe that intent or true signals should be aggregated. So I have two or three proprietary sources, right. Some of them are, I call it voice verified intent, where we listen to calls. And we understand based on the call centre, what B2B decision makers are buying based on those calls, we have an email engine that kind of disperses case studies out into the space, right, we tRack engagement with those case studies, because again, they're a bit more down funnel than just regular website engagement. And then I partner with two of the five largest review sites, I'm to ingest their data into my algorithms as well. So by aggregating multiple sources of intent, I can drive a solid volume of folks who I know are interested, but I also eliminate the false positives, the biggest issues with content providers is that they're too singular focused. So you'll find a lot of people who you think they have intent, but they just don't, because it's not cross verified. So my tech is built to ingest as many signals as I can. And I'm always I'm always building new ones, partnering with new companies and trying to adjust as many as many different types of signals as I can to identify with the highest propensity, what companies are actually in market across software and technology categories.

Mike: That's interesting. I mean, are there particular categories that this works, you know? Well, for? I mean, quite often, the review sites, for example, you mentioned, they're pretty focused around SAS products. Is that something that the system works really well for? Or is it applicable across a broader range?

Chris: They're pretty focused on SAS products and tech products, because that's where most of the spend is right now. And SAS and technology tend to be fairly progressive and how they market right I do believe the next wave from a from a B2B marketing standpoint, especially in the technology is all of the other industries and categories that haven't quite been as developed as tech and at SAS. Right. So, I mean, I have a friend who works at a $3 billion packaging company, for their marketing and sales team still uses Excel. Right. So, you know, there's hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on events in packaging and manufacturing. And, and some of these, I guess, you would say, less innovative, right marketing teams and sales teams that I think is like the next step forward. So again, that's why I'm focused on many different types of signals, because in the B2B tech space, they might see a lot of value in website engagement and review sites. But in the procurement space, I might want to partner with an event company, right to be able to tRack what companies have been or attended events in the past six to 12 months, right. So what I'm doing is leaving myself open options to be able to ingest and aggregate signals that might work for different industries or different products or different solutions better.

Mike: I'm presuming that's always going to be a work in progress.

Chris: There's always new sources of intent, that consistently being refined, right, and I believe at the end of the day, if you can solve for timing, right, most, most of the conversations happening in B2B sales and marketing are about tactic. Should I email should I call? Should I LinkedIn message should I do this? What software you know, like, those things are generally irrelevant. If you have good timing, right? If you happen to know that a company is really truly interested, or has a challenge that your product can solve, and you reach out to them, you could reach out to them on the street, or in an aeroplane. And they happen to have that pain that the moment you reach out to them. If your timing is good, your conversion rates are almost always good. So I've been really pushing my team to solve for that sold for having good timing, and then the ways that we can monetize it are infinite. You know, the joke I have with my team is if I went to the VP of Sales for an HR software company, and I handed him a, a post it note with five companies that are looking to buy HR software the next three months, and he cold calls those five and two of them schedule a meeting, right, that VP of sales would pay me $10,000 For that posted note, right? Because it got it got him the two meetings that he needs, you know, that he needed with the least amount of effort possible. And so that's what we're trying to solve for here at MRP.

Mike: I love that simplify it down to a post it note is a real goal. I mean, presuming you're not giving people post it notes at the moment. So can you just explain your how people can engage with the product. So maybe someone from the marketing side how they might engage to get perhaps at some of that top of funnel intent. And then obviously, you know how you'd work with sales to get some of them or bottom of the funnel.

Chris: So on the top of the funnel, we have a pretty dynamic content syndication engine, right? So B2B, marketers are giving us their content, we disperse it via email across our engine, and we're generating leads on a CPL basis that go into that top of funnel. And then in the mid slash bottom, I have a pretty innovative direct mail solution like actual physical mailer, that connects to a digital landing page, where we're able to capture both survey and request for sales call information that customers are really loving right now, because the desktop or the screen is just so crowded, right? And to be honest, the mailbox isn't crowded right now. So we're seeing a lot of great conversion rates with customers, leveraging that turn G physical mailer, and then I have a, I have two call centres, one in Philadelphia, and one in Belfast. So for my US customers, I provide really high quality, voice verified BANT type leads driven by a US call centre with very talented high skilled callers, right, which is unique in my space, because most of the calling teams these days are outsourced. And then in Belfast, I do about six languages across Europe as well. So being able to do that, and again, similar style, you know, high quality, long tenured, you know, outbound phone callers who are generating leads that have high propensity to convert into meetings and deals and pipeline because of the quality of them. They're not cheap, right? We're not that particular solution is at the bargain basement per lead, right. But if you're a customer in this space, looking to drive quality and not quantity, right, then it's an it's an amazing solution that we see a tonne of success with as well.

Mike: That's that's sort of interesting. I'd like to get back to what you said about the middle of a funnel. You mentioned postal mailings. Before COVID People were starting to see postal mailings working really well. And then obviously, as everybody moved to work from home, postal became harder. So how were you seeing postal mailings? Right now? Do you see people coming back to the office? Or are you having to find home addresses for people?

Chris: It depends on your persona. So we only send to the office addresses because finding the PII data attached to home addresses is fairly difficult, if not impossible, and in fact, if you could, if you had the data it would Probably be worthless in two years with all the data privacy regulations coming. So it really depends on the persona. So we we sell a lot to customers who are looking to target it, finance, legal, HR type personas, those are the personas that they have a high propensity to be hybrid and go into the office, and B, have a high propensity to engage with male, it finance, legal, and HR are the four personas that a business that likely engaged with the male most regularly it because they're always getting something a package, a delivery, a service, a server or something, HR and legal, you know, somebody's always sending a document or a paperwork or something. I'm in finance, because usually someone in finance is, is checking the the mail for checks, you know, obviously, so the bills can get paid. Interestingly enough, we see great engagement at the C level, just what happens is someone who may not be the C level is the person checking the mail, they see a very formal mailer with an in an envelope addressed to the C level person that looks somewhat important. And it's actually hand delivered to the C level person, which generates obviously a high level of engagement and open because it's delivered to the person like, Hey, you should read this, right? So, um, you would think Oppositely, but one of the most successful, you know, audience bases that we reach are those very high level or C level, folks, because the mail is usually dispersed directly to them by hand.

Mike: That's fascinating. And then presumably, on the other hand, you know, maybe someone like a software engineer might be harder to reach, they don't tend to engage with mail. They're quite often remote with that, would that be a fair comment?

Chris: Yeah, you know, software engineering, and marketing, from time to time has a high propensity to work full time remote, those are probably the two is the most difficult personas. What we're also seeing as well, too, is, again, we're not a gifting platform, so we're not sending heavy, you know, heavy boxes, or bulky bottles of wine or some of those things. So a lot of companies post COVID have set themselves up to forward mail, simple postal mail to the home addresses of those folks should they be sent in. So I mean, our delivery rate across all personas is over 90%. But in some of the higher you know, those those, those personas that we really resonate with, it's 97 98%.

Mike:  Wow, it's amazing. That's, that's up there with email, although we know most of those emails probably get delivered into junk and never get read.

Chris: Or there was so much automation right now, on the email side of the fancy that I mean, I think, like yesterday, I got like 172, prospecting or inbound emails from vendors trying to sell me something. So it's pretty gnarly.

Mike: Hard to stand out in amongst 172.

Chris: Yes, but it's easy to stand out amongst the two direct mailers that they might get. So again, it's been it, I will say a pleasant surprise. When I took the role. I knew we had the capability, but I didn't have an opportunity to kind of jump in and kind of see it. And it's been really favourable as we've combined. Our syndication solution, the top of funnel leads solution with the direct mailer. So we generate a lead for the customer through syndication, which is valuable to them because they have a high conversion rate over time. But a lot of buyers of syndication are getting pressured by their leadership team to convert faster, right. So by combining the direct mail nurture follow up to the syndication we're delivering leads at a very solid CPL, through syndication with our customers like, but we're also converting them at a higher clip, because we're attaching that direct mailer follow up to it, which is unique in the industry that I work in. And again, customers are really digging it.

Mike:  That's awesome. I love that. That sounds great. I mean, traeth talking a little bit more about COVID. I mean, one of the things a lot of people have said, is it's harder for sales teams to engage customers, post COVID. Basically, customers enjoyed not talking to salespeople during COVID, and actually doing a lot themselves self directed research. Is that what you're seeing, and that's why people need those, those leads more, are you seeing other trends?

Chris:  I've been in the sales, and I've sold to marketing for the better part of 17 years and the amount of times over that 17 years, someone's referred to the buyer journey changing. You know, I think there's enough times to where I can, I've lost count, right? The amount of information available to buyers, more now than ever is more than it's ever been. Right. But the part that sales brings into the mechanism. As far as the buying process standpoint is sellers are there to make a buyer feel good about their decision. And if you're a great seller, you have the expertise and the amount of knowledge to make a recommendation to that customer that makes them feel secure in the decision to sign that paperwork with. And that might happen a little bit later in the process these days because people are collecting information. Right so that really what's happened and the only part of the buyer journey that's changed is that the role giving customers information has pivoted a bit more from the seller to the marketing side of the house. Right. But what's the the buyer has collected the information required to move forward, that motion is still very much handled by the sellers. And again, the good ones are the ones who aren't continuing to give information. A good sellers are the ones who are making the recommendation that makes that prospect feel feel comfortable and good about their decision. And that's what that's the real difference in this, this, this consistent narrative of the buyer journey changes. It's really just a simple, small pivot in whether the sellers are disseminating information or marketing. Right. And that's the difference between 2004 and 2024.

Mike: Interesting, I think that's a really neat way of looking at, you know, some of the changes we've seen is it's just a slight pivot between sales and marketing. I love that. Looking at the product, I mean, you know, I'm interested in lead generation, it can span a huge range of costs. And obviously, the quality of the leads spans and even vaster range of qualities, you've obviously indicated, you're at the top end. So is working with MLP. Is that is that an expensive thing you need to be a big company for? Or can you address the needs of some of the smaller startup companies?

Chris: I mean, I have large customers, you know, that are that are fortune 100 technology companies that are seven figure commitments annually. I have I have small companies that are are simply looking to just begin their outbound journey or begin their inbound journey, right. So a commitment can be as low as $15,000 A quarter, right or as high as 15 million annually. The only real qualification point for working with an MRP is that you sell B2B products, right, I don't do b2c And the most difficult part for me is when I'm, I'm generating my own leads and navigating paid search and all that like keywords like lead generation bead 17,000, things ranging from I'm looking for mortgage leads to roofing leads to plumber leads to LinkedIn, like, again, like the term lead generation is so vast that it becomes sometimes difficult to navigate, you know, the type of lead generation that we do, because there's so many different types of quote unquote, lead providers out there.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I think that's a real challenge that range of what lead generation means. I mean, how do you market MRP? Is it primarily through search where people are actually looking for a product? Or are you doing other things to promote the company?

Chris: So we most certainly practice what we preach all the products that I've described here we use, right, so I send monthly direct mailers to targeted groups of people. I have outbound callers from my Philadelphia call centre, my Belfast call centre that are hooking, you know, interested bent type leads that my BDRs follow up on, I do syndication that I nurture and score up to the point where my BDR team is looking. Yeah, so all of the things that I sell, I do, which is wonderful, right? There's nothing better than nothing better than selling someone and they're like, Well, how do I know it works? And I say, Well, I'm talking to you, aren't I? Right, you know, like, so it's a, it's a tends to be a pretty strong use case. And you're convincing someone that direct mail works if they were someone who became a lead because they engaged with your direct mail, right, so we knew that my, my target audience, again, I know the companies that have a high propensity to buy, we do so My Tam is not small, but very focused. I'm only, like, 40 ish, million dollar company, right. So my resources are infinite, that I can't boil the ocean. So I have a very focused group of companies that I know have a high propensity to buy, I use our technology to further refine that list. And then I have, you know, obviously a team of outbound sellers and a small group of BDRs that, you know, really focus on, I have a very full cycle selling org, right, I have a small group of BDR is but they're mostly for lead qualification and passing, I don't do the SDR and, and the seller and the renewal rep. I don't have the multiple facets, it's, you know, single sellers who handled the whole lifecycle lifecycle of the account and the prospect. Again, keeping it simple, right.

You know, the go to market is changing massively right now, to be fair, you know, we've killed it ourselves. Right, you know, like, all the technology, all the automation, all the products that you know, all the spray and pray that, that marketers and sellers have been leaning on for the past three or four years, right? It worked in 2019 to 2021 because interest rates were so low, that money was free, and everybody was investing, like it was going out of style, right? And again, a lot of sellers in this current market never sold in 2011 2009 2008. I have zero so people are always like, when's it gonna go back? And I'm like, It's not this is it? Like this is what sales is actually like before money was free. So you know what, what we're seeing now is, is really what I call like, a thinning of the herd. urge sellers and marketers and revenue teams for those who are actually who actually have the skill set dedication, and, you know, again, general focus to be able to be a career seller or marketer, right? Those are the ones that are emerging to the top right now, and those who don't who just happen to be in the right place at the right time, in 2021, are going to be slowly working themselves out of revenue teams.

Mike: And that's a bit of a warning for people in careers, then they gotta gotta learn what the new reality is, or maybe not the new realities, obviously, it was a reality back in 2011, as well, Christmas has been been really interesting. Before you go, there's a couple of questions, we always like to ask people, you're doing a lot in terms of helping marketers find leads, and really almost expanding what marketing does versus sales. I mean, what would be your advice to a young person who's thinking of a career in marketing.

Chris: Play the long game, marketing isn't an instant thing, your leadership is always going to continue to push you to try to solve things very fast and quickly. And with that comes my second piece of advice, learn how to manage up, like setting expectations is the most valuable thing to do as a marketer, right? And what happens is why most 10 years of marketers, especially marketing leaders is so short is because they're just not great at setting expectations, they over promise, which vests and sets them up to under deliver, and then you know, things don't work out. But you have to be able to sit down with your executive team and say, Hey, this is gonna take time. And if that doesn't work for you, I'm not your person.

Mike: That's great advice, I think not only for, for somebody new to marketing as a career, but people already in marketing, talking about that, that advice for people who are ready marketers, is there something you give us like the best piece of advice you've ever received, about marketing about how to do marketing?

Chris: The best piece of advice I've ever received was from one of my earlier mentors, and it's, you know, learn how to say very complicated things in very simple ways. You know, that's always resonated with me, if you can't, you can't say something in two sentences or less, you're probably overcomplicating it and your audience isn't receiving it. And that works in both marketing, sales, leadership, life business, you know, all facets, but it's, I guess, especially relevant in marketing, given that sometimes you only have 10 to 15 seconds to catch someone.

Mike: That's awesome. That's great advice. Chris, this has been fascinating. I mean, just to finish off, is there something you'd like to say to you know, the summarise what MRP does? Or perhaps anything you feel we might have missed during the conversation? No,

Chris: I think we've covered it really well. And again, and for those looking to increase their pipeline, right cost effectively, generate leads for their revenue teams in the B2B marketing space. You can always reach out to myself, I'm on LinkedIn at Christopher RAC, M MRP, is on LinkedIn as well. We're also on most social channels, or hit us up at MRP fd.com.

Mike: Thank you so much for your time. This has been fascinating. And thanks for helping everyone you know, understand a bit more about the world of lead generation.

Chris: Awesome. Thank you so much, everyone, have a good weekend.

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.


Has Marketing Automation Changed in 2023?

2023 has been a big year in the world of marketing automation with technologies such as AI starting to revolutionise how marketers work.

Mike Maynard and Hannah Wehrly take a look back at 2023, discuss the highlights of the year and share their thoughts on what marketers can do next year to leverage new technologies and level up their marketing automation activities.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Napier

Napier is a PR-lead, full service marketing agency that specialises in the B2B technology sector. We work closely with our clients to build campaigns, focusing on achieving results that have a significant positive impact on their businesses and which, above all, ensure maximum return on their investment.

About Mike Maynard

Mike is the Managing Director/CEO of Napier, a PR and marketing agency for B2B technology companies. A self-confessed geek who loves talking about technology, he believes that combining the measurement, accountability and innovation that he learnt as an engineer with a passion for communicating ensures Napier delivers great campaigns and tangible return on investment.

About Hannah Wehrly

Hannah is the Head of Business Development and Marketing at Napier and leads on pitching, proposal writing, lead nurturing, email marketing, social media and content creation. Hannah joined the Napier team back in 2017 as a Marketing Specialist after completing her degree in Marketing and Communications, and her role focuses on developing new relationships with potential clients.

 Time Stamps

[00:40.04] – Mike and Hannah share their marketing automation highlights of the year.

[01:56.08] – Mike discusses how he thinks AI will impact marketing tools going forward.

[05:45.08] – Mike and Hannah talk about customer journeys and personalisation.

[10:01.08] – How are customer journey going to change in 2024?

[14:31.01] – Mike and Hannah share their tips for 2024.

Quotes

“I think a lot of AI is going to go and they're trying to bury the AI in the product. So, the product will just be smarter, and you won't think about AI and not AI, it will just all be one thing.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

“Do these campaigns, but look at the data, see how people are interacting and how you can take the personalization to the next level based on this interest that the prospect has got behind them.” Hannah Wehrly, Head of Business Development and Marketing at Napier

Follow Mike and Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-wehrly-b0706a107/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing Automation and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast – Marketing B2B Technology: https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/marketing-b2b-technology/id1485417724

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode 12 – Has Marketing Automation Changed in 2023?

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Welcome to the Market Automation Moment Podcast. I'm Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard. This is Napier's podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketing automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Market Automation Moment Podcast. I'm Hannah Whaley.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard.

Hannah: And today we discuss what happened to Michael automation in 2023. Our predictions for 2024. And we count to a seasonal agreement over Tip of the Week.

Hi, Mike, welcome back to the last Podcast, episode 2023. How're you doing?

Mike: I'm doing well, Hannah, it's good to talk about marketing automation. Again,

Hannah: it definitely is. And we've got quite an exciting session ahead of us, Mike, because I really want to take a look back at 2023 and have a conversation around what we think has been the coolest thing that we've seen. And what we're looking forward to seeing in 2024. So I'm going to kick us off Mike, because this is going to be of no surprise to you. And I promise it's not just because of the cartoon character. But I think one of the coolest things I've seen this year is the introduction of Einstein copilot. So we talked about this a few podcast episodes ago, but this is really the AI system, which is going to be built into the user experience within Salesforce. So from drafting customer code, providing sales recommendations, content recommendations, it's gonna be really interesting to kind of see it, unveil and be used in action. Because we've had the hype, we've had that, oh, my god, we're gonna do these cool things, but we've not actually seen it in reality. So I'm actually really intrigued to see what it's gonna look like in 2024. And, you know, by middle of next year, are we also going to be like, This is so cool. Or we come back to earth a little bit?

Mike: I think that's a great question. I mean, firstly, I know it is because the cartoon is to highlight. But equally, I think it's really interesting, what Salesforce is trying to do is, you know, where personally I think a lot of AI is gonna go. And they're trying to basically bury the AI in the product. So the product will just be smarter, and he won't think about AI and not AI will just all be one thing. And if Salesforce can do it, I think that could be super helpful. I mean, the reality is today, I think they're a little way away from it. So it'll be interesting to see how it develops. And, you know, really how much impact it has. And I think also the other thing, and maybe this is the scary side of, of Einstein, is it becomes so easy to generate emails that people are generating, you know, 10 times the amount of emails that they were when they had to manually write them. What's that going to do to our inbox? I mean, that is a little bit scary, isn't it?

Hannah: That is such a valid fortnight I hadn't thought of it that way. I mean, you know, our inboxes are so saturated day to day. And I suppose as a marketer, it's about finding the balance again, because if it's going to be so much easier to create that content, you don't want to get to a level where you're just receiving high levels of unsubscribe, or perhaps you're just going into the junk inbox. So for me personally, one of the things that I'm going to be looking at is, yes, let's use these tools, let's use it to our advantage, but we still got actually look at the results. And we've got a look at the level. So I mean, I always get a little bit nervous. If we send in four emails in one day, we've just launched our advent calendar, you know, I think we just need to be careful that we're not actually going to turn prospects off, and we've been engaging, and we're sending relevant content, but it's not gonna actually have a negative impact on us at the same time.

Mike: For sure, and I think one of the risks of AI is it's fairly easy to generate those emails. But if you actually don't think of what the substance of the email is, then you're going to be in trouble. You're going to be sending boring emails, and maybe nicely written by AI. But the actual contents, not renewing engage people. So we can't turn our brains off no matter what happens, because AI isn't going to completely replace that creativity. At least not in 2024. Yeah,

Hannah: absolutely. I couldn't agree more. But I'm interested, Mike, what is the one thing your highlight of 2023? Well, then

Mike: if it's a highlight, it's more, it's more disappointment. You know, I still see a lot of very simplistic campaigns, people taking very short campaigns, maybe someone gets an email, they register to download some content. And then you send another email saying buy this. And to me, I think what I've really liked to believe is that in 2020, for marketers are going to take a breath and they're going to think about what they're trying to achieve. And they're going to think about what that means to their audience. So what they have to do to walk them from wherever they are today, to where that market wants them to get tomorrow. I'd love to imagine there'd be more thought applied to campaigns and therefore better campaigns developed.

Hannah: Absolutely. I think that's really interesting because we know it's all about touchpoints. And I mean, this is the great thing about integrated marketing. And I mean, we obviously focus on market automation a lot here, because that's the focus of the podcast. But I think is interesting to have a look at what as well as the tactics you can use in conjunction with Mark automation platform. So how are you using touch points on your website? How are using form fields? Are you tracking where people are going? Are you perhaps using pop ups to direct them to certain pages. So that's a really good point, because there needs to be more of a thought process. But I think also just outside of the emails, there's a lot of things marketers could be doing to extend that customer journey and really implement that thought process. That's

Mike: such a good point, Hannah. And, you know, I think it's not just the email sequences that I highlighted, where people are not really thinking through the customer journey, basically. But it's also all the other things and doing things like making content more engaging when people get to the website, personalising pages, where you build landing pages, all of that, I think, is a huge opportunity. So it'll be interesting to see, I think the challenge is, is we know that some of the reason marketers don't think is they don't have time, and people are pushed for time. So maybe Einstein is gonna give us a little bit more time back. And we can be a bit more mindful about how we create and launch campaigns.

Hannah: Definitely. So I think there's a good opportunity to see the positives as well as the negatives of AI next year.

Mike: Definitely. Let's hope so.

Hannah: Do you want to have a bit of a discussion around the trends to watch out for in 2024? So we've already said our personal opinion, but I've had a bit of a research online. And I mean, again, predictive ai, ai generated images, this is a course is going to be a huge thing. Personalization. Obviously, that's not going anywhere. And I think every year I read a blog post where it's like, personalization is important. What ways could marketers use market automation to really take personalization to the next level next year?

Mike: Well, again, it goes back to what I said earlier, I think a lot of marketers aren't really doing much personalization. But for sure if if marketers think about it, I think they can build personalization into the whole journey. So you know, first thing to say is don't just personalise the email, but personalise the landing page as well. Another thing to talk about is, you know, personalising some of the advertising outreach you do, which I get is not really marketing automation, necessarily, quite often, that's to drive leads to landing pages that then feed people into marketing automation systems, but we've seen some incredible results where we've built personalised campaigns targeting, you know, single companies with separate graphics and texts designed specifically for those companies. So I think ABM is going to be the underpinning of personalization. Because you can't personalise everything, you know, to any great extent. So you're going to have to focus. But yeah, I totally agree. I think personalization is important. Do you see an area where we're gonna see more personalization from marketing automation?

Hannah: Well, I think for me, Mike is about taking personalization beyond just that name, and just that company name. I think it's the easy way out for marketers, sometimes you can easily put in those merge fields. It's like, Hi, Mike, you know, you work at Napier. But I think it's taking it to the next level. And I guess it goes back to, you know, which has already been a theme throughout our discussion is getting marketers to think a little bit more. So perhaps there's some content ideas that they could share, perhaps as a case study that the company shared recently, perhaps as a product launch, you know, actually taking it to that next level and taking a step back and thinking, okay, how can I make this really relevant to the person I'm talking to? I mean, the other day, you showed an email from row works, and they were sharing a content piece, but just the way they'd written the email that obviously done the research on who they were targeting, why it would be relevant. And I think just having that thought process and that strategy behind, we're targeting these people, it's not just the company name, this is why we're a good fit for you is going to make all the difference.

Mike: I love that. I mean, you're really talking about getting away from the simplistic stuff of name and company name and going to really understand what your audience cares about and delivering them the content they want. And I think you're right, that is where you need to get to and personalization. And that can be a challenge. Absolutely.

Hannah: And I think it relates quite nicely to the next point, I want to talk about Mike and that's really the kind of change in customer journeys. So customer journeys in the past would have followed a really straight linear process, you know, marketers could see but the landscapes changed this year and you actually wrote a great blog post on it a while ago. Do you just want to talk a little bit more about how you see customer journeys changing in 20 24

Mike: Yeah, and to be honest, I mean, it's not really a new idea, Forrester published their famous crazy funnel image. I mean, quite a few years ago now, saying that people were moving away from these linear journeys to something more complex. So, I'm not sure it's necessarily, you know, a change has happened in 2023. But I think in 2023, more and more, we're seeing it impact campaigns. And people are having to change because different prospects are moving at different speeds and in different directions. So without doubt, what we're seeing is companies trying to build micro journeys. So there's this little stage here, where we get the prospect from here to here, and there's a little stage here where we move them from point A to point B, but they don't necessarily move in this big, long planned out sequence. So I think that is actually a challenge. It does make it harder to create, you know, more thoughtful campaigns. But I think, you know, the one thing that Marquis automation needs to do is not only to feed data out and be a push, but also to get data back in so to understand what your audience wants, based upon their activities and their actions. And I think if if marketers can do more of that, then that's going to generate more and more effective campaigns. Oh,

Hannah: that's a fantastic point, Mike, because what you're really saying there is look at the data. So you do these campaigns, but look at the data, see how people are interacting, and how you can then again, take the personalization to the next level based on this interest that you already know, the prospect has got behind them.

Mike: For sure. And I think one of the things that, you know, really, fairly recently, last couple of years, is LinkedIn has got every marketer talking about, you know, the percentage of prospects that are in market that are ready to buy. And one of the challenges the market automation is, it seems to always be built around trying to drive that sale immediately. So you know, you've got to get to that bottom of the funnel. Well, the reality is, you know, if you listen to LinkedIn, only 5% of your audience are in market ready to buy 95% aren't going to buy no matter what you do. So that I think is what I mean by being more thoughtful about the journey is, you know, doing something for those people who aren't necessarily going to progress, as you say in that sequence through to a purchase, but are actually going to stop, they may get further down their customer journey, they may get closer to becoming a customer, but nothing you can do is going to make them ready to buy. What do you think about that?

Hannah: I think that's really interesting, because what I would add to that is, there's a simple way to do that. So have that thought process behind you. But the key part of Mark automation is the automations. So you know, we use a lot of campaigns where we run the ABM, we run the Google retargeting, but have a sequence that goes out, if they're still not ready to buy, if it's still not the right time, put them into a list, and then in a month's time to another sequence. And I think a big part of it is consistency. And it's being consistent and making sure you're top of mind and not annoying, but a good level of engaging and sharing relevant content. And I think it's understated sometimes how Mark automation can make your life easier in that part. Because I've been for Napier, I run a lot of automations. And I don't have to think twice about them anymore. I know that if that contact isn't interested, they're not engaging, they will go sit in a list, and then in a month's time, they will be entered into another sequence. So it doesn't have to be difficult. But the key message, I would say it's the consistency part. That is what's going to make the difference. Yeah,

Mike: and I think that's actually something you've really levelled up with our marketing automation and Napier is you've really looked at how you can pull out that 5% that are in market that are ready to buy and accept the 95% in any mailing are not going to be you know, immediate customers. And what you need to do is keep them warm, keep them nurtured, and just look at the behavioural cues that say, Yes, you know, someone's putting their hand up, they're interested, there's someone we need to approach, I think you've done an amazing job there. And it's something a lot of market automation users could learn from you. Don't

Hannah: give me too many compliments, Michael won't be able to fit my head through the door when I leave that great. I mean, I'm conscious of time. So I do want to move on to our insightful Tip of the Week. And I want to do a slightly different approach this week, where I want us to each share a tip for marketers to think about when entering 2024 So I'll start us off Mike and I think for me, you know, part of my role, as I'm sure listeners have gathered by now is that I am part sales and I am part marketing. So I have to have a sales hat and a marketing hat on at all times. And I think the one thing that can help companies be more successful, and it's that very, very long old cliche of consulting your sales team. So help them understand how much automation can be used. Encourage them to use it to their fullest. and show them the pipeline's show them the content that you were sharing, show them how they can see the prospects and what they're interested in. And I think if marketers go in with that mindset, they can really focus on building campaigns that will lead to closing the sales.

Mike: I think that's, that's a great point. And you know, what is happening, we know that actually, the amount of time, prospects spend engaging with marketing is increasing. And the amount of time they spend engaging with sales is decreasing. And I don't think that necessarily mean sales is becoming unimportant, what it means is those interactions in sales individually, are actually much more important. And the salespeople need to get all the information and be as fully armed as they can be. So I think that's a brilliant tip. I think people also need to, you know, talk to the sales team, to understand what the market wants, what your audience wants, because they are also very close. So they can also help us generate better campaigns.

Hannah: That's a brilliant point, Mike. Yeah, at the end of the day of sales has got the understanding of the landscape, their their day to day, and so that also be able to inform marketing. So it's definitely a joint effort. Absolutely. So Mike, your turn, what would you share as your tip to think about when entering 2024?

Mike: Well, I mean, the truth is, Yossi shared your tip sometime before the recording, so I got to see it. And I have to say, My tip is listen to Hannah, she's really smart. You know, I was going to talk about something to do with sales and marketing, but I think you just express it brilliantly. So, you know, as marketers, I think we need to go and make friends with our sales team. We need to train them, we need to educate them. And we also need to learn for them as well. So it's a great tip, you had Hannah and I completely agree with it. It's probably the best advice anyone could get. If they're looking to run marketing automation campaigns in 2024. Whoa,

Hannah: what a brilliant note to end on my thank you. I mean, I've loved our discussion today. And I'm really looking forward to seeing how the landscape continues to evolve. And also what marketers and the sales team go up to in 2024.

Mike: Absolutely. And I think you know, the last thing probably we want to do is just wish all our listeners a great break over the festive season. Whether you celebrate Christmas or anything else. Hope you have a wonderful time and very prosperous 2024

Hannah: absolutely have a great holiday. Thanks for listening to the Marketing Automation Moment podcast.

Mike: Don't forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we'll see you next time.


Succession Plus - Maximising Employee Ownership: A Guide to Implementing an EOT with Mike Maynard

Did you know that implementing an Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) can significantly boost your company culture? Mike Maynard joined the Succession Plus podcast to discuss the transformative power of EOTs for small businesses.

Listen here: https://succession.plus/uk/podcasts-uk/maximising-employee-ownership-a-guide-to-implementing-an-eot-with-mike-maynard/


A Napier Podcast Interview with Asaf Darash - Regpack and Kirsty Dawe - Webeo

Asaf Darash, CEO of Regpack, and Kirsty Dawe, CEO of B2B website personalisation software Webeo, join Mike to discuss their collaborative project and how Webeo's software enables Regpack to increase website conversion rates and enhance the customer experience.

A great success story, the project demonstrates the impact personalisation can have on lead quality and Asaf and Kirsty share their advice on undertaking similar projects.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Regpack

Regpack is an online registration, payment, and user management system that enables organisations to register applicants quickly and effectively.

About Webeo

Webeo is a software tool enabling B2B businesses to increase website conversions through personalisation.

About Asaf Darash:

Asaf Darash is the founder and CEO of Regpack. With extensive experience as an entrepreneur and investor, he has built three successful companies to date. He specialises in product development for the web, team building, and bringing a company from a concept to profitability. His specialties include extreme programming, programming languages, JavaScript, MongoDB, system structures and new media, enabling him to build versatile products based on achievable business models. He holds a PhD in New Media from Hebrew University of Jerusalem and has served as a visiting scholar at the University of California, Berkeley.

About Kirsty Dawe:

Kirsty Dawe is the CEO of Webeo, B2B website personalisation software that delivers a proven solution to the website conversion problem in B2B. Webeo’s software helps B2B organisations increase website leads by delivering a highly relevant, personalised experience to the B2B buyer as soon as they hit the website and tailoring that journey as they move through the funnel. Before Webeo, Kirsty held the role of Managing Director of award-winning agency Really B2B for 15 years. She has extensive knowledge and skills in B2B marketing, website customization, business growth, technology innovation, and full marketing mix in various sectors.

Time Stamps

[00:50.02] – Kirsty and Asaf share their respective career journeys.

[05:53.02] – Asaf explains why Regpack needed to work with Webeo to overcome challenges.

[11:24.09] – Kirsty explains how the Webeo platform can personalise website content.

[19:35.05] – Asaf discusses the time and cost investment involved in the project.

[21:14.00] – Kirsty shares the way businesses can ensure personalisation whilst sticking to legislation.

Follow Asaf:

Joe Zappa on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/asafdarash/

Regpack website: https://www.regpacks.com/

Regpack on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/regpack/

Follow Kirsty:

Kirsty Dawe on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kirstydawe/

Webeo website: https://www.webeo.com/

Webeo on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/webeoglobal/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Transcript: Interview with Asaf Darash - Regpack and Kirsty Dawe - Webeo

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Asaf Darash, Kirsty Dawe

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I have two guests, I'm joined by Asaf Darash, who's the founder and CEO of Regpack, and Kirsty Dawe, who's the CEO of Webeo. Welcome to the podcast, both of you.

Kirsty: Thank you for having me.

Mike: Great. Well, it's great to have you both on and we're obviously going to talk a little bit about a project you've done together. But before, I mean, maybe I can just ask you to give us a little bit of background about your career journey, and also introduce your company and what it does. So Kirsty and then if you want to go first?

Kirsty: Yeah, sure. So I am currently CEO at Webeo, who we are going to talk about today, alongside SF, we are B2B website personalization solution, working with customers purely in the B2B space to help drive their conversion rate optimization, free website personalization. I am now vendor side and feel very passionate about what we do. Because as a B2B marketer, who's been client side and agency side, I understand the pain of driving really great quality traffic to your website, and then not getting you know, much more than a few percent of that traffic actually convert into valuable opportunities and ultimately revenue. So that's why Webeo was born. And I think the reason I feel so passionate about it is because prior to web, eBay was agency side, so I built up ran B2B marketing agency, really B2B, we worked with a range of different clients, everyone from software to professional services to digital transformation, and we won some awards, we were very, we are very, I would say they are very demand gen focused, so results driven, which fits perfectly with the offering that that we have in having Webeo. And it just seemed like an ideal transition for me, you know, looking to move out of the agency space to go into a business where I could really see the value of the product, and also how that would bring revenue into the clients that that we worked with. So that's a bit about me,

Mike: I love that you've moved into a company that solved a real problem that you had in your previous role. That's, that's brilliant. And so can you tell us a little bit about Regpack and how you ended up founding and running the company?

Asaf: Sure. So Regpack is basically an onboarding tool for businesses, mainly service based businesses, the best way to think about Regpack is Shopify for services. That's the easiest way of sort of like a calculate exactly what we do. Services have unique needs that normal ecommerce does not have, mainly the problem of space and time. And the way that that they can give their offering only in specific situations, they have caught a problem, they don't have shipping problems. It's very, very different. And it's really missing in the market right now that services have a dedicated platform for them. My my personal background is somewhat different. I started with an academic career, I was a Fulbright Scholar, I did my PhD at Berkeley, and then later, my postdoc was in Berkeley and Stanford, I mainly was interested in computer languages and how they affect human action. as nerdy as can get. And while I was doing my, my first and second degree, I also built technology companies that would mainly like code that I sold one to Excel or company and the other two to venture capital eventually, like totally sold, I didn't want to do anything with it. And then what happened is, I, I started building a prototype during my my PhD, to see if you can build something that has no constants in it. Only variable, I built a prototype I saw I showed that it's possible. And I was like, Okay, great. You know, a lot of times you build something in the academia, and they're like, Yeah, that's fine. We're done. And then I remember, my, my professor at MIT is like, you know, okay, so who needs this? And like, I don't care. And he's like, No, but who needs this? And he's like, go check if someone needs it. And that sparked a real interest in me to find a real use case that would use that. And I noticed that services have unique business processes that are different from each other. What's very different from a service based business and, and like a just an E commerce or just someone selling stuff is that they have an onboarding process. Think of it like your lawyer, your doctor, anything that giving you a service, they have an onboarding process. And the onboarding process is always unique. Because every business is a bit different. And this fit exactly to what I built. Because it's like, you need to be able to create something that is, is like, it's like it more. It's like Lego, right? Like you can put things together. And I was like, Okay, let's build a company out of this and enrich pack is the baby.

Mike: Right? I mean, I love that I love that you came up with this concept, and then then look for the market and found found that market that needed the product. Obviously, the reason we've got you both on the podcast is to talk about how you two have worked together. So So can you tell me, you know, you have this business, you know, helping service companies on board? What was the problem you had? And then why did you go to where the Oh,

Asaf: so the biggest problem that we had, and we still haven't much back is our biggest strength. Okay, we can cater at the same time to a SaaS company, to a camp to a conference, to a lawyer's office into a doctor's office at the same ease. Now, if you walk into a restaurant, and you see that they serve sushi, and steak and pasta, you'll say like, this sucks, right? This is restaurant, the food is truly terrible, right? And you walk out. And that was exactly our problem, like people would see that. And they would be like, there's no way you can do all this, there's no way that you can do this in a good way. And the thing is, like, because the technology is so unique, and how it enables it, it's very hard for people that are even for people that are technical to believe that this is possible. And that was the problem where we would talk to a client, and they would be very, like, they wouldn't believe that this is possible. Now, on the other hand, this is exactly our strength. Because no business does one thing, they always do multiple things. Think of a school, a school has the actual school, they have the after school, they normally have a camp, they normally have a bunch of events and constantly, right, and there's just like a normal school right? Now, that means that a school is using between four to five different software's just to run basic functions, which is terrible, right? So on one hand, when the client understands that we can do all these things for them, and they start doing the various things, they become a client for life, because from their perspective, replacing reg PAC is replacing it with five software's which no one's going to do, right. But actually getting them to start was close to impossible. Because they didn't believe that you can do all these things. And they would just like, you know, zone out right in the beginning or never convert. When when we found Webeo. I felt like, you know, well, I found the solution at last, because we can detect what they're initially interested in, like, why they came in, okay, think of it like, I don't know, the restaurant analogy, again. The person wants to eat sushi, should you're just giving them a menu only of what you serve for sushi. And they're like, Okay, great. This is the sushi restaurant, this is what I want to eat. And then they're like, Okay, I'm willing to listen to you guys. I'm willing to see the demo. And we even took it a step further in the initial communications with the client. We never told them that we can do other things. But they came in only for a conference. We're like, Yeah, we're just conferences. Oh, that's the only thing we do only conferences. And then only when they actually become a client, that the project manager that works with them the first time they're like, Okay, these are all your options. What do you want to build? And they're like, what, you can build all these different things? And like, Yeah, whatever you want. And they're like, wait a second, so I can do the conference. And the HR together was like, Yeah, let's start with your conference. And that's the aha moment for people. So whether you're really solved a major marketing problem that we had, which, on the one hand, it was important to hide it like to hide disability, but eventually, it's our strength. So it was sort of like the creative, exact dance that we needed.

Kirsty: That was one of the most bold approaches that rage pack took, because so many B2B marketers, organisations wouldn't take that chance, they would still say, but we still haven't say all this other stuff, because shareholders and, you know, the sales team, and, you know, the fact that obviously, I serve as a CEO and founder he could he could make that decision, but it was pretty bold, and it really, really paid off, you know, restricting the experience to just what that that buyer was interested in, and then getting them into the organisation. So yeah, really powerful.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a great idea. It's very much almost, rather than looking for an ideal customer, you find out what the customer wants, and then you create their ideal product. I think that's a really neat approach. Was that what you were thinking SF.

Asaf: I wouldn't say that. We were creating their ideal product, but we were presenting the product as ideal for them. The product is the exact same product all the time. It's just, it's just that we present it as how I say, it's very similar to the computer, okay, like the computer can do a lot of things, right? It can compute, it can create a can be a communication machine, it can be a number crunch. It does, like in academia computer is called the all purpose machine, right? Now, if you try to present to, to normal people that the computer is All Purpose Machine will be like what he's talking about, I use it in order to call my friends and send like, you know, emojis. That's what it is for. Right? So it's about speaking the language in a way. Which, by the way, one of the things that we do in the software as well, is like, if you have a camp, we change all the verbiage to campers. And, and let's say families. Okay, and if you're doing a conference for for a company, we change the verbiage to employees and companies and and that lowers people's anxiety, just right away.

Mike: I love that. I mean, I think one of the things people are going to wonder is he mentioned this asset that you are able to work out what people are interested in when they come on your website. So I mean, kirsta, you're providing the technology that does that? How do you do that? I mean, that's fascinating. Yeah,

Kirsty: I mean, obviously, there are a number of different ways to do that. And the most used way for the wider web to customer base is IP data. So we can identify based on a business's IP address, as soon as they hit the website, the industry, that they're in the vertical that they sit in, and then serve that personalised experience across the whole site from the minute that they hit the website. And SF and the the team use that for some of their major sectors, particularly education. But what red pack does that was really smart, is they layered on behavioural personalization. Alongside that, because some of the sectors that red pack focus on are particularly niche. And when you mentioned camps, there's not something that's very easy to identify based on a zip code or a nice code. And obviously, we can integrate with HubSpot, we can pull in the data that's already in the client CRM. But using behavioural personalization, where visitor goes on to the website and hits those key product pages, so identifies themselves, right, okay, I am in the camera vertical, or I am in education, and then in real time, changing that entire experience so that it's all completely you're using the verbiage that the as I've talked about earlier, in real time, okay, I'm looking for software for my camp. Okay, great. Now, the whole experience is just relevant to that. And everything else that applies to other ways that the software might perform for other industries that hidden and it's all just laser focused on offering that to the customer. And that was why they increase conversion, and then subsequently, better quality of leads as well, because people knew exactly what they wanted, when they came in as a lead. And I think that the final bit that I know, that we talked about before was we can see by someone's behaviour once they visited that website, but we came up with together a really great idea around getting prospects to self identify and confirm themselves what vertical they sat in what they were interested in, as soon as they hit the website, whereby we couldn't identify behaviour because there exists something called cookies. And we need first party cookies to be able to do that. So as surfs dev team got involved, we were working together so that when a visitor hit the website, they were served a pop up experience that asked them to identify the industry they were in it then pushed them into that behavioural experience. And again, the whole thing changed. And once they were in that they were in that for their entire customer journey. So I mean, I don't know if you wanted to add anything on that asset because it was a it was definitely a collaborative approach.

Asaf: Yeah, I want to add basically, how we reach these points, because probably the listeners are like, you know, so how did you come up with all these ideas? Right? So the way that we started is we started with the IP data. We started with the IP data, and we were like a, I think five or 7% personalization of the visitors and we were seeing good numbers. Once we personalise we were seeing good numbers, and we said okay, so now our goal is to reach 50%. We want 50% of the visitors to be personalised. Now, how do we do this? In the beginning, we were like, Okay, let's use Google. We have we have very strong SEO and what how As is, Google will send people to a pillar page like a page that is talking about exactly about what they're interested in. So we said, Okay, anybody who hits this page automatically gets personalised. So if anybody hits a camp page, from this point on rich package just for kids, or anybody who hits after school, from this point on, it's only after school. So first, we were using Google. OK, Google is helping us. Obviously, we were using also the landing pages and any any paid search, etc. So I think with that, Christy, we reached like 15, or 16%. And we were like, Okay, this is great, but it's not enough. We need to go a step further. So, at this point, I brought in my dev team, and we're like, okay, let's, let's create a pop up on the website that we can control if they can close it, and, and how long before it pops up? Which basically tells them, what do you want to build today? Okay, or what are you looking for, and it took a long time to find the exact time that will pass when they're on the page, to have it pop up, so that the bounce rate won't go up, if to allow them to exit out and not allow them to exit out. It was like a real, as you understood before, like, I'm very analytical and scientific. So it was all like, you know, very, very done in a very scientific way where we were looking at data all the time. And eventually, we got like, you know, the right combination. And right now what's happening that are specific pages that we give it between 35 to 42 seconds to actually read the page, and then a pop up comes up, and you're locked in, you have to say, like, what you're interested in. And what happens is they're sent to the pillar page. And we do that also to help them understand, you know, what we can do for them, but mainly in order to personalise, because from this point on, they will be personalised to that specific vertical that they said that they're interested in. And that's when we started seeing really high conversion rates. I also want to say something that's very interesting that happened, the number of leads, did not go up in like, you know, a crazy amount. It went up about twice, right, which is amazing, right? But the biggest difference was the quality of the way that we measure it is like we care about the leads, and then we say, okay, who are invalid leads, no contact leads, etc. And then eventually we have, how many leads are actual possible deals. Okay. And if in the past, we had about 27, to 30% of leads became possible view, we're at 67%. Now, 67% of our leads are possible deals, it means that they come in, they understand exactly what they're gonna get, and they're interested in talking to us. They don't like cool down and like, No, I don't want to talk to you guys. And that was the major difference. So in a way, the personalization is, like Webeo is one element of the personalization, but goes through the whole system, where the email that they get is based on a pillar page, like the email after they become a lead, is based on the pillar page they came in, everything is personalised, all the experience, the specific team that works with them, and sales is only the team that takes care of this vertical. And then the pm that works done is only the team that works on this. So the personalization goes throughout all their experience. And then like I said, they have the aha moment only at the end of like, we can do more for you. But whether you're really like, beyond giving us the technology to do a lot of these things, they gave us the understanding that we need to have this type of personalization throughout the process.

Mike: And that's impressive, because actually, what you're saying is the impact on volume of leads, which was to x is actually slightly less than the impact on quality, where, you know, the percentage quality has gone up about two and a half times. So presumably, a lot of that is you're actually moving prospects further down that customer journey before they're filling in the form. And just doing some quick maths, it's like, it sounds like you've got about five times the number of opportunities than you had prior to using LabVIEW. Yeah, I've got to ask this question. I mean, you've talked about a lot of things. You've talked about the pop up, you've talked about, you know, doing the the optimizations around where people land. I mean, so how much time and money did this take to actually implement it? I mean, is this an incredibly expensive and time consuming process? It's

Asaf: not expensive, because it's only you know, you need to think about the ideas. So you just need to be sharp, I guess, in terms of like, time, it took about, I think, Christie, like six months until we reach this point, right? But it's like it's continuous iterations. Now, maybe it's my software background and the understanding. It's just this is how you build software iteration like you. You constantly try to improve it like if you're like a Can we reach the point? What? How do we make it better? How do we make it better? How do we make it better? By the way, in our emails, like our Moto, in the company is, is getting better. Like that's what we believe in, like constantly getting better. So it was like, for us it wasn't like trying to reach an endpoint. And I think we're not in an endpoint to right now. Like, we're continuing to improve on it all the time. Now that we've reached a high number of personalizations, you know, you get radio says, Let's have 70%. So, so it's, it's yes, it's time consuming. But it's like part of what you do like marketing is, this is what you do you constantly looking at numbers, you're constantly trying to improve the numbers. You you find ways that that you can do something that is smart. If you do what everybody else is doing, then yes, you're going to spend a lot of money and you're not going to see results.

Mike: I mean, that sounds great. One other question I'm interested in a lot of people when it comes to personalization, are worried about privacy and GDPR and legislation. Now, Kirsty, you are very specific in that you mentioned the use first party cookies. So this is obviously something you've thought about or Webeo. What are you doing to make sure that people can personalise but still say the right side of all this privacy legislation? Yeah,

Kirsty: of course. So, obviously, IP doesn't fall under the same legislation as GDPR. Because we are processing personal data. So you know, the ICAO have worked with us on that. And you know, we're really clear about the opportunity there, we are identifying a business IP address and marketing to a business, there's no way to personally identify, so I think that will always be a part of the future. But the you know, first party cookies provide great context. And so it's just about leveraging that as much as possible. Most of us, we're all of our behavioural personalization sits behind cookie consent. So obviously, we give the buyer the opportunity to receive that personalization. Once they've accepted cookies, I think, you know, it's about working closely with our customers so that their own privacy statement works. But also, they work hard as well, to encourage consent, because ultimately, the buyer does get a better experience. And so so that does continue. We're also beyond the first party cookie data that that we capture in, in web you, we are powerfully able to leverage our customers first party data. So any of our customers, you have Marketo, HubSpot or Pardot, will be dropping a cookie, on their website for a customer and with consent, again, capturing that data. And they'll have a lot of rich insight on those potential customers and customers that sit in their MA platforms. And we're able to pull that into Webeo. Again, we're not seeing any personal data, all we're doing is knowing that visitor as part of that Marketo Smartlist. So we're going to serve them this experience. And we actually do the same with sixth sense as well. So it's always with permission, but doing as much as we possibly can to leverage that data. So we don't use any party cookies at all first party. But ultimately, what we are seeing when we do that is a richer experience. And also, that is when our customers kind of softer stats really start to improve as well, because, you know, we're seeing, okay, people are getting the experience that's relevant to them, more time on site, more pages viewed lower bounce rate. So I think there's a there's just an ongoing piece to be done by all of us, as B2B marketers to educate our buyers about the value of, you know, serving them something that's powerful and relevant, like we used to it as consumers. So it makes sense in the B2B space to.

Mike: That's great. And I think, you know, one final question on this is, do you think this is all finished now and done? Or are there things you're looking to do to further improve your number of leads and conversion rate, and also the softer time on site metrics?

Asaf: So first of all, we're capitalists and we're greedy. So we won't. But yeah, like we want to improve the conversion rate. We want to give even a better personalised experience to people and get more people seeing the personalization. One of the issues is exactly what you talked about the cookies where I think all Apple users all their cookies are blocked by definition unless they, they change it. So I'm trying to convince Kersey to implement a device recognition technology, which GDPR does not cover and I think that's fine because it's only for that specific session. And from our perspective, that's, that's enough. For example, our whole system is cookieless. And we do everything based on device recognition. and which from our perspective is the works? Well, I think also one of the possible issues that will arise eventually with IP data and all that is the fact that a lot of people work from afar now. So it's very hard to detect what they're like, what's their industry or what company they're working for, basically. So I do think that the future is in device recognition. And, and we're seeing a lot of a lot of companies pop up that are connected to that and that are creating real value through that. And eventually, I'll convince Kersey to implement that, and then we'll do more.

Kirsty: Yeah, I think, to add to that, I think, you know, our US customers do find it easier with regard to GDPR. And, you know, cookies and similar tech, as is included in the legislation, the US legislation, as far as privacy is not as strict as it is in Europe. And, you know, there are challenges with businesses, I think, and this is, this is a key thing, that's a really important point to make, because I love as I've saying all of that, because he's got the right attitude. Sometimes within a business, the people making decisions about what should be done with privacy on the website, have no connection at all, to what that organisation is trying to achieve. And, you know, they're implementing things that, you know, make it really, really difficult to have a conversation with the buyer with no context of okay, well, that's going to impact our ability to pop up the chat or serve a demo request. And so organisations have to be connected on privacy. And, you know, marketers need to be really informed so that they can have that argument back to the legal team who just snapped blindly. But like, you know, there's always ways that you can take advice and ensure that you're combining the best experience with you know, respecting that visitors privacy is really important.

Mike: I think that's great advice. I mean, I really appreciate the time both you've given us explaining what you've done, it's been fascinating. And we'd like to ask a quick question. And one quick question for both of you. I don't know, Kirsty, if you want to go first, I'd love to know what the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given this?

Kirsty: Well, I'll say the piece first, and then I'll say why. So I mean, it's measure everything. Because if you get the input metrics, right, the output metrics happen automatically. And I have to say, when I got into marketing, I did not think I'd be spending my time analysing spreadsheets and data and getting excited about a slight change in percentage, but that now is what drives me I, you know, I definitely was of a creative mindset. But I think the gift with marketing is that you get to combine that that creativity with Okay, so what has that idea? What is that hypothesis actually done in terms of numbers back into the organisation? I think, you know, I see it so much having been agency side and obviously working with clients now that, that lack of rigour with regards measurement makes it really difficult for marketers to justify what they're doing. And we should be measuring things like, as I've talked about, right the way through to revenue, it's happening much, much more nowadays. But that's your point of justification, measure, measure, measure, and, you know, anyone looking to get into marketing, it is exciting. I promise, the measurement is exciting. So don't think you're gonna be all math it, but it is, it's the best part of it. I

Mike: love that. And I mean, listeners will know that I'm actually I started my career as an engineer. So I love numbers. That's great. And lastly, so if I mean, from your point of view, what's the best bit of marketing advice you've received?

Asaf: I would also agree with Christy, I always tell all my marketing team, leave your ego at the door, bring your creativity. And remember, this is a science. It's a science, it's now it's not like, you know, the 80s where it was about, you know, creating the most creative thing, no, this is a science, you need to find out what is working, and then push on that. I would add to that one thing that some marketers fall into, they fall into only looking at the numbers, and forgetting that marketing is creativity, you sometimes need to do a leap of faith, you need to say, I think this is what's going to happen. And this is exactly they were like what we're talking about. Here's an example that this was a leap of faith, we believed that this will work. And we said okay, we'll try it out. And and it worked. Now it could have failed at the same time. And then we would be like, Okay, fine, let's try something else. But I think that's something that a lot of marketers today are starting marketing right with only analytics. Forget you still need to be bring your creativity and you still need to do those leaps of faith. Where you say I think this is going to work. Why I have no idea. I just think it is

Mike: That's brilliant. I mean, great, great advice from both of you. I really appreciate your time. If people are interested in finding more about what you've done or about your respective companies. I mean, what's the easiest way to contact you, Kirsty? What's what's the best way to get ahold of you?

Kirsty: Yeah, I mean, obviously, I'm always happy to hear from people on LinkedIn. So please, obviously, send me an InMail. If you want to hear more about Webeo understand more about what we've done. Obviously, we've got the website's got loads and loads of rich content on there. But I'm happy to receive contact personally as well via LinkedIn.

Mike: Awesome, and Asaf.

Asaf: I'm not gonna lie, if you send me a message on LinkedIn, you're not going to get an answer. Probably want to learn more about Regpack, just Google red pack, and you will find like a tonne of information there. You're

Mike: a busy guy building a building a company and growing fast. I totally understand that. That's very honest. And I really appreciate that. Thank you both for talking about the you know the project you've worked on together. I'm sure a lot of people are going to find it, you know, very thought provoking and helpful. I really appreciate you both being on the podcast. 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.


B2B Digital Marketer - The Intersection of Engineering and Marketing in the Digital Age

Mike joined the B2B Digital Marketer for a conversation into data and creativity in marketing. Mike discuses the importance of quantitative and qualitative data in understanding customer behaviour and driving decision-making and the need for marketers to embrace data-driven strategies rather than relying solely on creative instincts.

Listen here: https://b2bdm.com/the-intersection-of-engineering-and-marketing-in-digital-age/


A Napier Podcast Interview with Joe Zappa - Sharp Pen Media

Joe Zappa, CEO and Founder of Sharp Pen Media, is an expert in the marketing technology space and joined Mike to discuss how marketers can maximise the impact of their marketing efforts.

Joe shares his insights into why constancy is important for long-term success, why marketers should dig deeper when developing personas and why he believes the AI generative phenomenon has been overblown.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Sharp Pen Media

Sharp Pen  Media specialises in content and PR for the B2B companies in the AdTech and MarTech space, including enterprises, startups, and marketing agencies.

About Joe Zappa:

As an experienced B2B Ad MarTech Journalist, Joe has spent several years creating content for B2B companies. He is now the CEO and Founder of Sharp Pen Media, an agency supporting businesses in AdTech and MarTech.

 Time Stamps

[01:11.09] – Joe discusses his current role at Sharp Pen Media and his career journey.

[06:06.02] – How do the marketing challenges of start-ups and established businesses differ.

[14:33.02] –Joe highlights some campaigns that have been successful in MarTech.

[17:59.04] – What impact is AI going to have? Joe shares his thoughts.

[24:49.09] – Joe offers the best marketing advice he has received.

[27:27.01] – Joe’s contact details.

Quotes

“I think the generative AI phenomenon has been overblown… I think A. I. Is ultimately at present more of a tactical tool” Joe Zappa, CEO and Founder and Sharp Pen Media.

Follow Joe:

Joe Zappa on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/joe-zappa-6229a4a8/

Sharp Pen Media website: https://www.sharppenmedia.com/

Sharp Pen Media on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sharp-pen-media/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Joe Zappa - Sharp Pen Media

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Joe Zappa

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Joe Zappa. Joe is the Founder and CEO of Sharp Pen Media. Welcome to the podcast, Joe.

Joe: Thanks so much for having me on.

Mike: It's great to have you and you're a little bit different because you're actually running an agency, but you're running an agency that works with a very specific group of clients. So he really specialises in the marketing technology, which is why you're on I'm really excited to find out and take a little bit of a look behind the scenes as to you know, how some of the guests who've been on our podcast might actually be doing marketing. So hopefully you can help us with that.

Joe: Yeah, I'll do my best.

Mike: Okay, so, first thing, you know, we want to start out and find out how you got to where you are today. You start as a journalist, and now you're helping marketing technology companies promote themselves. I mean, How'd you make that jump? That sounds like quite an exciting career journey.

Joe: Yeah, so I was an adTech martec. Journalist, I was the editor for five years of the mahr tech trade publications, street fight. And when I was doing that, I would edit the thought leadership islands and missions we would get. So basically, I was constantly interfacing with the marketers who were representing adTech and more tech companies, either fielding their pitches, reading that press releases, or editing their executive byline submissions. And when I started to transition from being a journalist to being a marketer, the way I did it was just to talk to all the people had been pitching me forever, and be like, hey, what do you do? Tell me about that. And then they would be like, you know, this space really? Well. you've edited these things, why don't you try writing them? And I did. And it went well, because I had an understanding, having edited like, 1000 columns by adTech and MarTech CEOs, what works and what doesn't, and what's actually compelling to the audience.

Mike: So it's pretty interesting, but what made you make that jump and go from being a journalist through to actually, you know, effectively starting your own agency?

Joe: Yeah, I was recommended to a company that needed a content marketing writer and realise that I really liked it. I got my start in journalism, editing the daily newspaper at my college. And there, I would do reporting and edit the reporting of others. And I would also edit the columns and work with the column writers. And I always really appreciated argumentative writing, sort of like a debate club, like I really love getting into the head of a given company or company leader, and figuring out like, Okay, I know about these trends in our space, what is this company's position within the space? How do we differentiate them and make that argument? So that was something I loved about marketing from the jump.

Mike: That sounds really cool. So I mean, you've got your first, you know, if you like, freelance gig, how do you think grow the agency? I mean, what were the next steps to go from from that one sort of freelance role into building up to be an agency that that obviously now is quite a big force in the mahr tech space? Yeah,

Joe: interestingly, I think the journey for an early stage agency or a freelancer trying to become an agency owner in marketing is not so dissimilar from that of a really early stage tech company, which is to say that I wouldn't have recognised it as this at the time, but it's basically founder led sales in the beginning, right, you're setting up your shingle, you come up with a basic positioning statement, and you are working your network and talking to everyone you know, and see, like, who will work with you? Once I had that sort of critical mass of clients, I made a pretty classic like Freelancer agency owner transition when I just couldn't do all the work myself, right. Like I went from one or two clients to six to eight. And by then it was like, Okay, well, I'm writing like, three articles a day, on top of trying to market the business and manage things like that's not gonna happen. So that's when I had to hire people and start really running an agency.

Mike: I mean, that's awesome that you managed to grow like that. So where are you today? I mean, you know, how far have you gone? And what is sharp and media? Do you feel clients today?

Joe: Yeah, so we have about a dozen clients and adTech and MarTech ranging from really early stage startups to billion dollar plus revenue companies. We do marketing strategy, content and PR for our clients. I basically view it as two different personas. One is a probably fairly early stage company. I mean, they might have been around for 20 years, but they're still small ish, and that they don't really have a marketing team or a marketing strategy. So for those clients will come in and we'll bring in a multi time adTech martech CMO, and we'll create your marketing strategy out easily with you with the CEO or the CRO, whoever's in the picture. And then the other client, which is probably more relevant to your audience is a more mid market or enterprise company that has a marketing team and a strategy already. And with them, we're usually working with the director of comms or VP of content or whatever it is. And they're I view our role more as making their life easier. So generally, they work with us because they have worked with freelancers or agencies before who didn't really get adtech martech. And they want to come in and like, not have to explain, like, what's a DSP? What's like B2B intent data add? What is the third party cookie, these kinds of things we just come in. And we know that and we try to make their lives easier.

Mike: And hopefully everyone listening knows what all those abbreviations are, because they've heard other people talk about them. So. So that's great. I'm interested, you've got those two very different personas where you know, it sounds like the startup, you're basically are the marketing department. Whereas the more established companies, you know, you're working for a marketing team, to these two very different companies or types of companies. Do they face the same challenges? Or are they facing very different problems?

Joe: I think on one level, there is a similar challenge, which is sort of my hobbyhorse, which is that, like a huge challenge, and adTech and MarTech, and more broadly, B2B tech marketing is differentiation, or transcending commoditization. Right? So even when you have these more established companies that have a certain level of awareness and product market fit, I think still, there's often a challenge of okay, you know, we help companies sort out their data, right, first party, third party data, whatever it is, and privacy is a huge issue in that space. So we want to write a byline about, or we want to write an executive byline for our CEO about the third party cookie going away. So this is very common, right. And this is what I experienced as an editor was I edited hundreds of these third party cookies going away, what do we do now columns, and I still see that even with very mature companies is that you have to work together to figure out okay, let's reset. Like, we're, we might have a marketing team of 10 or 50 people, we're pretty advanced. But do we really have a differentiated message? And do we have a way to talk about the news that relates to that differentiated message? So that I would say is the similarity? I would say the difference is that those early stage companies, they need that marketing strategy, right, they probably don't have written down anywhere like, This is who we are, this is who our competitors are. This is why we're different. This resonates with our customers. So especially for the younger companies, I think you need to do that foundational work of understanding who the customers are and what resonates with them.

Mike: Wow. So that sounds like two very different challenges. I mean, it sounds like those startup companies, you really are starting from scratch, even if they've been around for a while if they're small. They don't have that they plan the strategy, the frameworks to do it. The Enterprise comes in Why do you think that they're still, you know, writing the same articles? And I'm I agree, though, third party cookie going away? Is that storyline that keeps giving right, we then see they get rid of it? Why do they keep going back to those same storylines, rather than finding something new?

Joe: I think it's because things evolve in your industry. And there was probably a point, if you're a mature company, where you did the exact type of exercise we're talking about with the early stage companies, right? Somewhere along the line, you got together with your executive team and the leaders of the marketing department, you talked about who you are, and how you're going to be different, you interviewed a handful of customers figured out what resonates with them all that foundational work. But that goes stale, right? Like you need to do that basically, once a year, to understand how to insert yourself into the narrative of the industry and provide value to your audience. When you don't do that sort of strategic work on some sort of regular basis, you end up taking the easy way out, which is no individuals fault. It's just what happens when like everyone is busy, and you don't have the time to set aside for that strategic reflection. And so then you end up pumping out commoditize insights, right, where it's like, in adtech, and martech. We've all read, you know, 50 by lines on how to prepare for the death of third party cookie, and then we end up saying basically the same thing. So I think it's it's keeping up with the dynamism of the industry. That is the challenge. But what would you say? Because you work with a lot of companies on similar issues?

Mike: Yeah. I mean, it's, it's interesting, we see a lot of themes that are fairly consistent. So if you look at the world of industrial automation, there's a huge theme around net zero. I mean, it's a massive topic. But I think in a way, companies in our space are actually quite good at putting their own, you know, really specific view on it. Because the way you get to net zero in terms of saving as much carbon and, you know, sequestering it or doing whatever, as opposed to the carbon you're missing. There are different ways to do that. So you can do that and have a strategy around capturing that carbon you can have a strategy around, generating energy in a more environmentally friendly way. If you can have a strategy around more efficiency, I think we see those big topics, but there's lots of different ways to attack them. I think one of the challenges maybe you face is that, you know, something like a third party cookie, there's going to be one industry solution, there's going to be consistent, and people can't very easily come up with very different answers. Is that fair? Do you think?

Joe: Yeah, there are there are two or three solutions. But ultimately, if you have 100 companies talking about two or three solutions, you're still gonna end up with that commoditization challenge.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. So becoming commoditized and not differentiating. I mean, that's a classic mistake that people make. I mean, do you see other mistakes being made in the marketing technology space where, where companies are maybe missing opportunities, or perhaps just simply doing things wrong?

Joe: Yeah, one is consistency. So I think that, you know, we mainly do content and PR for our clients. And something that we see a lot is that companies are stuck on the MQL hamster wheel. So they're stuck only doing marketing tactics that can be easily attributed to leads. And that's fine. Like in the beginning, you should do that, right. Like if you're an early stage company, and you need leads to survive, and you don't have a reliable acquisition channel, you should focus on marketing tactics that will clearly grow your business. But as you mature, and let's say you're a an eight figure revenue company, and you get all of your leads from SEO, that might be an acceptable tactic to management, because it's easy to understand, right? Like we spend this much we write these articles, we can easily track them, people come through, they submit a demo request. But ultimately, to grow beyond whatever stage you're at, you're going to plateau with that MQL focused SEO tactic, and you're going to need other tactics. And that's where understanding that being a part of the industry conversation, and regularly getting in front of your audience does pay dividends over the long term is important. If you can find like a version of Twitter, right? Like people will say an industry Twitter's like adTech, Twitter, or whatever it is, if every major thread that happens in that industry, you are a part of and people are looking to you as an authority. Or if you're speaking at conferences, and people recognise you as a luminary on this or that issue, like that is going to generate gains for your business over the long term. And I think where a lot of companies go wrong, is they just give up on it too soon, they don't want to do anything that can be easily measured in terms of lead output. So they have their main lead strategy, but then they like try out content, they give up on it, because after three months, they're like this isn't clearly generating leads. The other thing I would say is that companies focus too much on their own product, which is harder for their prospects to remember than they might imagine, like, my new product details are very important to the people working every day on the product, they're not as important to the customer base. And the key is to make your customer, the hero of the story, not your product. So I would say those are two things I see often.

Mike: That's amazingly similar with what we see in our industries as well, I think the product is really interesting, and I totally get it. I mean, I used to be an engineer, I used to be developing products, you know, and products were two years of your life. And he put this huge effort in and it really matters to you. And it's very hard to have a marketer go and say, customers aren't that worried about particular features or particular products, what they care about is over whether you're the right vendor with a right sort of range of capabilities to be able to work with them. That's hard when you've spent all that effort and all that time on one particular product or one particular feature.

Joe: Yeah, that's absolutely true. Ultimately, you are selling to a person. And unfortunately, that person, like let's say your product is, you know, five hours out of their week, they just don't have that same level of attachment to the intricacies of the product as you do. So the way I try to coach people out of that is to focus on the person or the persona, right? Like, who is this person who's using the product? What do they want to achieve? And how are you going to help them? I'm sure you do something similar?

Mike: Yeah. I mean, it's a, I guess it's a fairly standard approach, but it's very effective. I'm interested to move away from some of the challenges. Let's look at something a bit more positive. I mean, where do you see martec companies getting it? Right? Are there any particular campaigns you've run or seen that they you think really crush it in the world of martech?

Joe: Yeah. One example I like to go to is our marketing strategist, Paul connect and he was the Chief Marketing Officer of an adTech company called beeswax that had a nine figure exit to Comcast. And what Paul realised when he was working at beeswax was they were working with media buyers, so brands and agencies, and they were having trouble with sales cycles. Your sales cycles were really long, they couldn't really figure out Who is truly our ideal customer? And how do we use that intelligence to bring in the right people make the sales cycle shorter and then make happier customers. And what they ultimately realised was that they had this sort of intricate and granular tech that really resonated with a persona that they ended up calling control freaks, which is funny, because it almost sounds insulting, right. But that's the exact idea of it was that they didn't resonate with like the average media buyer, they resonated with companies that had built out data teams and people who really wanted to get into the weeds on their media buying technology. And by reworking their marketing and their sales pitch around this persona of the control freak. They were able to bring in the right people shorten the sales cycle and have happier customers, because they were no longer foisting this, like relatively granular tech on people who just wanted something easy, right. So I think that's a great example, because it shows what we sort of learned in marketing 101, but then tend to forget, because it's hard, which is that the most effective positioning will actually turn away the majority of the people who see it, but it will really resonate with the 20% of your potential market, you need to be super successful.

Mike: Yeah, and I love that as well. Because I think in B2B, it's so easy to, to almost think of personas in terms of checkbox characteristics, you know, size of firm, what role they are, you know, how many people in their team? And actually, I think that that control freaks is really interesting, because that's much more about that person's behaviour and how they think, and really not so much about what they actually do. And I totally agree, I think that can be really, really effective when you really get under the skin of your customer.

Joe: . Yeah, I agree. I was talking to another startup founder recently, who runs a text messaging solution that helps small businesses communicate more easily with site visitors right to turn online visitors into leads. And he was saying, like, there's a hard condition for our prospects, which is they need to have website traffic, right? Because then if not, that solution, obviously won't work. But then there's a softer, more like persona driven condition, which is they have to care about communication. And they have to want to improve and sort of have this understanding that there would be value and a solution that would help them more effectively communicate with their customers. And that's not like you could have a 10 person business where they have that desire. And you could have 100 person business where they're like, oh, no, this is never gonna work. It's not important. So you're right, it does go beyond firma graphics, is great.

Mike: I mean, I could talk about personas for ages. I love PreSonus. But I'm aware of the time I think we ought to talk about some of the other topics. I mean, one of the topics I feel I can almost never do a podcast without is mentioning AI at the moment, you know, I'm interested as another agency owner, where are you using AI? And where do you see it going?

Joe: So where we think I can be helpful is in research and inspiration. So for example, if you are writing about location data, and you have a freelance writer who's never written about it, a use case where I've found AI helpful is having that writer put into chat GPT, like write a blog post about three ways enterprises can use location data to grow internationally, right, and then that might provide them a basic education on the subject that's going to be more efficient than if they were to go out and like Google seven different things and like read a bunch of different articles. Or another way would be very commonly established use case now, like, give me 10, subject lines for an email about X, Y, or Z. But overall, to be honest, I think the generative AI phenomenon has been overblown. And the reason I think that is because AI is ultimately at present more of a tactical tool. It's not going to solve like foundational, strategic or critical thinking marketing questions. And I'm just of the opinion that those foundational questions like, Who are we? Who are we speaking to? What's going to resonate with them? I think that comes from speaking to your customers speaking to industry experts and thinking critically, I don't think it can really come from ChaCha beauty. And I think the obsession with generative AI comes from a problem in marketing, which is that we are very obsessed with like tools and tactics and efficiency. And I think often to the detriment of those strategic developments that really make marketing successful. But what about you, how are you using it? And how do you think about it?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think, you know, junk food is really interesting, because it's very attractive because writing good quality content is really hard. And most people know that. A lot of people who are not specialist writers, they really don't want to have to create that content. So that promise of generative AI to be able to create blog posts very quickly, is incredibly so octave, and I understand why people like it. I mean, we've actually tried, we ran a test using Jasper, which is still based on the same GPT model. And we did some editing to make it better. But effectively, we ran the tests, we decided we weren't prepared to post the blogs, because they weren't good enough. So we did some editing afterwards. And we put them up. And ironically, at about the same time, we obviously had some of our writers writing content. But also, we were doing a couple of articles on design, and we had a couple of designers contributing. And the designer, you know, blogs don't do as well as the ones written by professional writers. And they probably shouldn't do, you know, it'd be worrying if designers were as good at writing as people who do that as their career. So they had a much lower time on page. And interestingly, when we put the AI generated content up, it was about as good as the designers, even though we've had writers come in and try and edit it and facelift it afterwards. So, you know, kind of my view was, if you want to write blog posts that are as good as a graphic designer, AI is not bad, I think it will get better. But being an ex engineer, fundamentally, what AI is trying to do in generative AI, is it's trying to predict the next most likely word. And it's not quite that simple. It's a little bit more complex, but it tries to predict what word would be most likely used. And that to me, says average. So I think you know, generative AI will will get to the point where it's round about as good as the average person at writing. And obviously, when I've specialist knowledge that not everyone will have. So in terms of any one specialisation it will be average, I don't see it getting above average, because by its definition, it's not trying to be creative. It's not trying to be new. It's interesting how when you look at very short form content, you know, Google ads, headlines, or subject lines for emails, sometimes they're the way GPT works, you can actually get some quite creative ideas. And I think for sparking ideas, it's great, certainly, for summarising content is amazing as well, you know, if you want to summarise something down, or indeed, if you want to get to explain a technical concept in our sector, there's lots of technical concepts that are quite hard to understand. And actually, AI is better than a lot of web pages and explaining those. So all of those things are fantastically helpful, but it doesn't replace people. Yeah, I mean, it's certainly not got that creativity. And I don't think it will, I think what will happen is, rather than us having a, effectively a marketing copilot, or you know, a chat GPT that we consult all the time, I think there'll be aI features accelerated into all sorts of different tools, and almost disappear. I mean, there will always disappear. And you won't think of it as AI. But it will just be suggesting ideas to it will be helping you create content. And I think that that's the future. And that is very exciting. But it's not a it's not like having a cyborg next to you. That's a marketer.

Joe: Yeah, and it's similar to how it works from a product or entrepreneurial standpoint, right. And that most of the successful companies that are using AI over the next five to 10 years, they won't be quote unquote, AI companies. They will be companies that are doing similar things for companies doing now with AI to be better at it and X, Y or Z way. Another thing I would just add is that what you're describing with chat GBT or generative AI pumping out average content returns us to the commoditization problem, right, that's it's like you're using a tool that necessarily churns out commodity content, because it's optimising for the average, and it can't capture what is specific about your company's positioning or expertise.

Mike: Yeah, and the thing is, is sometimes something agencies aren't very happy about talking about, but a lot of what we do, doesn't actually really resonate. And actually, typically, when we look at content, I'm sure you're the same, you know, a small percentage of content is responsible for the vast majority of engagement on any website, or, you know, in any publication. There's a few really hot stories or topics that people really like. And so generating average is not a good idea, because average content gets well below the average number of views is the exceptional content that really drives success. I mean, do you agree with that?

Joe: Yeah, I do. And I also think that speaks again to the consistency point of right of you show up every day, you participate in the industry conversation, and you know, one out of five pieces, or tweets or LinkedIn posts or whatever it is, are going to have an outsize impact. But if you're just pumping out the same thing every day, and optimising for average, you're far less likely to see that outsize impact from the best pieces of content.

Mike: And I love that if you're optimising for average, you're not going to see outsize impact. But that's a quote that I think we should leave with on the podcast. This has been fascinating. Jonah, I think it's been really interesting. I could talk to you for ages. We have a couple of questions. We'd like to ask everybody to try and get some idea of what are the good things in marketing and one of the things we'd like to know is what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Joe: I think really good advice that is given often but not followed is that if you really want to market a company effectively, especially as an agency where you're not immersed in that product every day, you have To talk to customers. So as I said, we do that with early stage companies for sure if we're setting the foundational marketing strategy, but I would just exhort your listeners to, of course, be sure they're communicating with customers, but also if they have agencies or freelancers to let them either talk directly to customers, or at the very least, like get transcripts or sit in on customer calls, because it's from talking to customers and hearing what they love about the product and how it makes them do their jobs better, that you're really going to understand how to reflect the best parts of the product back to the target audience.

Mike: That's great advice. I love that and understand the customer in terms of careers. I mean, you were a journalist, and then moved into marketing. What do you feel about marketing career? Would you advise young person thinking about marketing to go into the career? Or would you say there's better places they could be?

Joe: Yeah, I definitely would. I mean, I went to a sort of liberal arts college and friends of mine who went into business right out of college, they went into like consulting or finance, there was no sales or marketing classes or major. And I didn't even really know what marketing was when I was leaving college. And I wouldn't have done it differently, necessarily, but I do think it would be really helpful for kids with more of a writing aptitude with more of a qualitative brain to understand that communications and content are out there, and that there are, you know, 10s of 1000s of jobs in these industries, because you can participate in business and sort of have a more standard, secure career path. Without just like living in spreadsheets every day. Of course, there's another part of marketing that is living in spreadsheets, and like the data science people are the more quantitative brain folks, they have lots of options in business that include marketing and many other things. But I would especially just talk to college students, early career professionals who are more writing or qualitative, focused, and say like, there are a lot of really good business jobs out there for them.

Mike: That's great advice. I love it. Joe, I so appreciate your time. I'm, you know, really valuable your insights if people are interested in contacting you and finding out a bit more whether they're from a Mar tech firm that needs help, or perhaps just somebody who wants to ask you about something you sit on the podcast, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Joe: Yeah, you can find me either at podcast dot sharp pen media.com or just Google Joe Zappa, LinkedIn. And I'm sure I'll pop up. That's fantastic,

Mike: Joe, it's been a great conversation. It's great to talk to someone who runs another agency in a slightly different sector. I really appreciate your time. Thank you for being on the podcast.

Joe: Yeah, thank you so much for having 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.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Mariam Lochoshvili - Sensata Technologies

Mariam Lochoshvili, Global Marketing Communications Manager at Sensata Technologies, joins Mike Maynard for the next episode of our leading B2B marketing professionals series.

Mariam shares how following job opportunities around Europe led her to her role at Sensata, explains the importance of localising campaigns for maximum success, and shares her thoughts on why maintaining a strong company tone of voice might offer an advantage as AI increasingly saturates content across the industry.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Sensata

Sensata is a global industrial technology company striving to create a cleaner, more efficient, electrified and connected world.

Time Stamps

[00:49.02] –Mariam discusses her career journey.

[12.39.08] – Mariam shares why authenticity and emotion is important when marketing B2B tech.

[13:49.09] – Why is localising so important? - Mariam and Mike discuss.

[18:09.0} – Mariam discusses the campaigns she is most proud of.

{23:29.01] – Mariam talks about AI and career prospects.

Quotes

"Talking about emotions is a new trend in B2B... when you connect to people on that emotional level, only then are you actually generating true interest." Mariam Lochoshvili, Global Marketing Communications Manager at Sensata Technologies

Follow Mariam:

Mariam Lochoshvili on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mariam-lochoshvili/

Sensata website: https://www.sensata.com/

Sensata on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/sensata-technologies/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Mariam Lochoshvili - Sensata Technologies

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Mariam Lochoshvili

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Miriam Lochoshvili. Miriam is the Global Marketing Communications Manager for Sensata technologies. Welcome to the podcast. Miriam.

Mariam: Thanks for having me, Mike. My pleasure.

Mike: It's great to have you on the podcast. I'm really interested, we always like to start off by finding out how people get to where they are in their career, and you've had geographically quite an interesting career. So Jordan, tell me a little bit about your career journey and what you've done.

Mariam: Yeah, absolutely. So I'm originally from Georgia, the country, not the state. And my international journey really began with an unforgettable Erasmus year in Latvia in Riga. I did that during my Bachelor studies. And to this day, I think this experience is like really special from me. And from there, I was off to France for my masters. This is actually where my first experience in the world of B2B marketing happened as well. They no one was off to Germany for work. And now I call London my home. And, you know, it's really funny how curiosity can lead you to unexpected places, I never imagined living in London. And, you know, I often wonder where it will take me next. And yeah, it's been really interesting.

Mike: And I'm really interested, because, you know, for someone in the UK, where we don't typically see people who are particularly mobile with careers. I mean, were you picking countries you wanted to be in? Or were you picking opportunities, and not really worrying where they're located and just following the opportunities? I

Mariam: was definitely following the opportunities, not the countries. Now,

Mike: that's awesome. And other than a little bit of jealousy, because obviously now the UK can't participate in the Erasmus programme, which I know was an amazing and still is an amazing programme in the EU. But it's great to see that you've moved around. How're you finding London?

Mariam: I absolutely love it here. I do. But I never imagined myself living in London, but I actually really liked it here. So

Mike: it's great. And you're in London to work for since arta. So if people listening don't know, since after, can you give us a brief overview about what the company does?

Mariam: Yeah, absolutely. So since Allah is this huge global industrial technology company, what we are doing is that we're really striving to create a cleaner, more efficient, electrified and connected world, we've got this huge range of sensors or an electrical protection components, and also some data rich solutions as well, that really help our customers and partners solve very complex engineering challenges. And we are also not really limited into one field. We make sensors and solutions for everything really from like your everyday gadgets to high tech, complex automotive or aerospace applications.

Mike: That's interesting. And I mean by background, you're not super technical, are you? So how do you find working with such technical products?

Mariam: Yeah, I'm definitely not. I think the key is there, I honestly owe a lot to my colleagues, that really helped me navigate the technical aspects of our products. I work with engineering teams on a daily basis. And I think for marketers, sometimes that can feel quite overwhelming, because engineers are known for their very direct, precise communication, they are exceptionally smart, and it can feel overwhelming sometimes. And when it does, I like to remind myself that they are the creators of the products. They know everything about it. And I actually feel really honoured to be able to work by their sides. And I try to approach each project with a sense of humility, and also really be proactive. You know, while I may not know, or have the same technical background as they do, I'm really committed to ask the questions. And I'm also very open to doing my independent research to fill the gaps from time to time and that's how it happens. I think it's in the end all about collaboration because we bring different things to the table. I

Mike: definitely agree with that. I mean, one of the things that the intro As Mason salts has, obviously got a very broad range of products, I mean, do you approach things from a product point of view learning about the products? Or, you know, when you're trying to understand the technology, you're approaching it from the application point of view, looking at the industries that use the products and why they need them? I

Mariam: think it's a combination of both. To be honest, it really depends on the product and solution, I've done both. There are certain products that are the same across the industry. So in that case, the product approach works, but there are others where you have to start from the application and go backwards. So it really depends. We've done both. Awesome. I

Mike: think, you know, one of the interesting things about B2B is B2B is different from a lot of consumer marketing because of the the depth of product knowledge and information you need. A is that something you see is is that you know, one of the differences and is that one of the reasons you'd like B2B.

Mariam: I definitely see that. I don't think that was the reason why I ended up in B2B. I'll be very honest, I didn't have any like this grand master plan to start my career in B2B, I would say, opportunity came up. And I just went for AIX. I started actually in b2c, when I was very green in marketing. And I've got to say that I really enjoyed that experience, to be honest. But as I've always been very open to try new things. when the chance came up. And it was actually in Paris, I had a chance to do my internship to write my master thesis in a B2B tech company. I was like, Yeah, sure, why not? That's a great opportunity. And then I just went for it. And I stayed, so which means that it's still quite interesting and really challenging. So I love it. And

Mike: that was great. I mean, can you dig a bit deeper as to what particularly is exciting about Cinsault? Or what, what gets you really excited about marketing products there rather than maybe another company? Yeah,

Mariam: that's, I love that question. Actually, I think there are many things that are exciting about marketing for Cinzano. But I think the part I love the most or I find most fulfilling is knowing the impact that we are actually making on the world. And I think for me, the ethical dimension of marketing is very important. And I realised that early on in my career, I need to really believe in the product I'm promoting. And x insider, I have that assurance and that luxury, that I know, our products are genuinely making a good difference. So I think that's probably the most important for me.

Mike: That's fascinating. I mean, it sounds like you're saying authenticity is really, really important in marketing and B2B now. Is that your view? Do you have to be honest about the products? Or do you think it's much more about whether or not you enjoy the role that's really driven by you know, how much benefit the products deliver?

Mariam: I do think that honesty is really important. And I think in general, and that might be my very personal opinion. But I think in general, for a marketer, there are a lot of distractions, to be honest. And there are a lot of ways you can sometimes lose that path, you know, but I honestly think that it's really important as a marketer to really maintain the authenticity and honesty in your communications, because I think the trust that you're building with your audience is the key to successful campaigns. And it's also a value that will serve you throughout your career, not just in that particular company. So I would look at that, even from a broader perspective than from like one company's angle. That's

Mike: really interesting. I mean, you talk about trust, you've got to build trust with a lot of different audiences with sensor data. So I'm interested to know how you manage marketing communications that build that trust with, you know, a whole range of different people, both in different industries and also different roles that are involved in buying your products. Yeah,

Mariam: absolutely. So I think the important thing is instance data. We have long and short cycle businesses, right. And if you think about our business cycles, your short cycle businesses would be using very similar to like b2c marketing practices and our long cycle businesses would be those traditional B2B practices. But I think you know, what's funny, there is one common ground between all the audiences that we really serve, and it's the fact that you're talking to people and people have their emotions. And I think our job is really making sure that people that are out there looking for solutions, we can connect with them on that emotional level, while delivering the information about our products and solutions, and really let them know how we can help. And then think that's the universal truth that doesn't matter which industry you are in which products, you're marketing, you need to think about people. And your audience is always made up of real people that have very real emotions, and you need to find ways to connect with them. On that emotional level. Yeah, no, I,

Mike: I love that sort of talk about, you know, firing emotions in your audience, your prospects and customers? I mean, can you just dig a little bit deeper into that and give maybe some examples about how you try and generate an emotional response rather than a purely logical response, which I think often some people think is how engineers process data? Yeah, that's,

Mariam: that's a great question. And before I get to that, I think I also really want to mention that talking about emotions is a new trend in B2B, right, because the B2B industry is quite well known for the technical part of it. But I think what we often forget, and I think that's becoming increasingly apparent in today's world where people are and customer behaviour is changing so rapidly, engineers are people as well. And they react to emotional responses. So I think when we try to plan campaigns, our first layer of communications is really trying to connect to those people on the emotional level, and then deliver the technical parts, because only when you connect to people on that emotional level, only, then you're actually generating true interest. Because people nowadays have a very short attention span, you have this tiny window. And I think without bringing emotions in place, it's really hard to stand out from competitors. Because everyone can put tech specs out there. I think not many companies can actually try to turn this text backs into something that connects to a person on an emotional level. And that's a real challenge. And I don't think we always do that, but at least we make our best effort to try to do it. And that's already, you know, that's already great.

Mike: I think that's really interesting, Marian, because you know, you've got a global role. So do you think you need to do different things to spark emotion in people in different regions around the world? Or is this something you can run one campaign it generates the same emotion wherever you're living?

Mariam: Our 100% And we are definitely committed to localising our campaigns, where required not in all cases, but in most cases. And then when that happens, we really work very closely with the regional teams to make sure the strategy really aligns with the market needs and requirements. And I think one example, I can share with that, that just comes to my mind, because it was very recent, we've been trying to break into mexican market with one of our product lines that were previously launched in the US. And the first thought was, you know what, we'll just translate all of our US communication, entire materials, and then that will do the thing. And luckily, we went through this discovery phase and did some digging. And we found actually really valuable insights, that, fortunately, I may just completely rethink our game plan. In fact, we had to redo all of our marketing materials, significantly adjust the messaging, and completely rethink the channels. And I think my key takeaway from Greece was, you really need to build strong connections with your local experts, but also really try to get some fresh perspectives outside of your usual company bubble. You know, I would really recommend, you know, observing what other companies doing that country, connecting with thought leaders, industry leaders, looking at your competitors. But as you do that, I think it's important to remember that just because something worked for your competitor doesn't mean that it will work for you. And I think it's always important also to keep an open mind that you don't know from the start, and you need to continue to test to adapt to tweak. And that's about it. I think they building that strong connection to the market in the exploration phase is really important and keeping an open mind as well.

Mike: I think that's very true. You know, you need to really understand what's going to generate the same response from the market and I'm typically translate Seeing words from one language to another is not the way to generate the same response. It might, it might appear to be the same message, but it's not received in the same way. Absolutely.

Mariam: I can talk about difficulties of translations whole day. But yeah, translation doesn't work word by word. It doesn't, it really does.

Mike: I think that's interesting, because a lot of companies now are looking more and more to AI for translation. And obviously, AI, generally, is a very literal translation. And I think that's going to bring some problems in the future, as companies realise that the translations they've done don't actually communicate the same message and the same feelings, even if the words have literally been, you know, switch from one language to another. Yeah,

Mariam: absolutely. And even in every language, you have multiple ways of saying the same thing, right? It's like the same sentence, you can express yourself in different ways. So literal translation never helps. You all always need to look for the emotional background behind the actual sentence. And I think that can only be done, unfortunately, by humans. And that's why you need to work with your local teams, or if you don't have a local team, build a strong local team that will help you with that. Definitely.

Mike: And we've talked about an awful lot. And one of the things that's occurring to me is you've got this global role, you're covering a wide range of products, a wide range of industries. I mean, how do you in your role, prioritise and decide what you're going to focus on?

Mariam: If you look at my desktop, you probably think that it has definitely seen better days. You know, I definitely have my version of an organised chaos. And I do love my chaos. But seriously, if I have to answer the question seriously, I would say, I really rely on project plans heavily. So every time I started a project, I make sure that I create a comprehensive project plan first. And the plan really helps me navigate and adapt as well. And I think also, my personal nature comes in play as well. Just because I'm very adaptable. As a person, I think I can really quickly shift gears in the work environment as well, which allows me to prioritise and then reprioritize quickly and effectively. So I think personality definitely plays a role. But outside of personality, I think really keeping your ducks in a row by organising your projects, plants is important. And you know, whether that's an organised chaos, or very meticulously organised the project plan, that's completely up to you.

Mike: I love that, you know, pick, pick how you want to get there, but make sure you get to the right place. I'm interested now, I mean, you know, from this organised chaos, and also some great project plans, you know, you've obviously produced some really good campaigns, are there campaigns you're particularly proud of, or campaigns you think, have worked particularly well in your career?

Mariam: That's a very difficult question, because I genuinely love all the campaigns that we deliver. And I worked on delivering, because I genuinely think that while there is always room for improvement, I know from my own perspective, like at that point in time, I've done the best I could, given the resources, right. But I think if I have to choose probably, to a recent campaigns come to my mind, and I'll tell you why I like them. I think the first one was the public service initiative, we've launched actually, this summer. And what made it really special for me was that it was a collaboration between five competitors, that really got together to tackle a service related challenge for the industry. And I think it was for the first time that we had to witness this competitors, like really set aside their individual interests, you know, and really come together for a common cause. And that was really inspiring, because there is a huge potential in collaboration. And the campaign results definitely are a testament to that. But it was a really good example of how collaboration can make really the significant impact then each of us would make separately it was way more significant than that, and really, like elevate the entire industry and I think that's beautiful. I really liked that part of it. The second one, as part of our commitment to sustainability. We've actually taken some steps to adjust our internal process and like really revamp our internal flows on like how we approach trade shows, marketing, collateral consumables, anything that we print, so We made a lot of adjustments to that. And I really liked that personally, because again, it shows our dedication to the responsible marketing. And it's really close to my heart. So I'm very excited for that. Yeah.

Mike: And as an engineer, I love the thought of people focusing on process and how you do things rather than necessarily just looking at the result, because clearly, a lot of randomness happens. And some some events are great. Some events are not so good. And it's not necessarily something you can control. I love that process focus. Yeah,

Mariam: absolutely. And I think sustainability is a tricky one as well, right? Because there's so much fuss around it right now. And, yeah, sometimes you can make way bigger impact by redefining the process than actually by changing one component or material.

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, sustainability is really interesting. You talked earlier on about trust and authenticity. There's a lot of sustainability campaigns that maybe have questionable basis. I mean, how do you feel about the way that everyone is jumping on the sustainability bandwagon and tried to appear sustainable, whether or not they're actually changing the way their business works to be more sustainable?

Mariam: Yeah, I mean, there, that's a real problem out there, right, like greenwashing is everywhere we go. And I think as a marketer, as well, there is so much fuss around it, like you actually need to make a very educated effort to understand what's trying to jumping, and whatnot. And I think outside of the marketing aspect of it, I think everything starts within the company. And I think in today's world where information is everywhere, and you can't really control that, I think everyone should be really conscious of communicating something that is not 100% accurate. People have more information about sustainable efforts that this information is very accessible, more accessible than it was before. So my feeling is that we all really need to be conscious when talking about sustainability topics. Often it's not so much of a marketing message for external audience. But really, the first layer is actually getting every single person in your company excited about it, then redefining the their everyday work to make sure that they are thinking about sustainability. And in our case, it's very much into our DNA, because the products that we produce, are actually helping the world be greener place. So obviously, the manufacturing process itself, these being adjusted, like as well, every other company would put we do make our efforts in that direction. And I'm really proud of that. But again, we try not to make too much fuss about it externally, and keep the right balance there. I love that. I

Mike: mean, I think it's interesting that, you know, you're not overselling something, even though you've got a genuine reason to talk about sustainability, because the product inherently helps your customers be more sustainable. Absolutely. Moving on. I think we have to talk about AI at the moment. I think it's it's one of the requirements of any podcast about marketing. I'm really interested to know what's been your experience of AI and marketing at the moment? And whether you're using AI extensively?

Mariam: Yes, some Yes. Still, ner is definitely getting a lot of attention. And of course, I've been experimenting with it myself. In fact, beginning of this year, I really made this very conscious effort to play with different tools like Chai, GPT, Google barred me journey and few others really. And what really blows my mind daily is how fast AI is progressing, and how quickly it changes. And I know that there is a lot of scepticism out there in the marketing community. But I would say I definitely think AI is here to stay and definitely give it a shot. Try it. While I think all of us should be very responsible. Using Gen AI, I think it's really important that we become familiar with it, and we'll learn how to use it to our advantage. And really like how I personally look at Gen AI is it's just another tool in my creative toolbox really. And it has opened some exciting possibilities, but so did other developments, right. So I think it's definitely important to try but also remember that responsibility aspect of it as well. And to answer like the second question, I think the content creation is becoming so much easier and faster than it was ever before. Jenny I allow As opposed to like, generate content in second. But I think what's going to be really important is ensuring that the content that you're actually generating is the right one. It's not just quick, but it's also engaging, it provides the right information, and it creates value for your audience. While you can create so much more content right now, it will not guarantee that the content will always hit this box. So I think for marketers, it's going to be extremely big challenge to make sure that in this environment where content generation is so easy, we try to generate the right content, and it's gonna become a really challenging job. And I think that's why we see new jobs, like prompt engineers becoming really important that are trying to track all the ways you can prompt the AI, right. But at the end of the day, I think marketers should keep that in mind. And the other important thing that I always think, is the tone and the voice of your company, like if everyone is using AI generated content, I think those of us who will make an effort to stand out and keep the voice and the tone of the company will actually be on the winning side of the game. Because all content will solve some start sounding the same. And I think it's increasingly important to try to maintain the tone and voice of your company. And stay true to that, which can be challenging, but it's not impossible. Yeah, I

Mike: think that's a really good point people don't think about is one of the goals of marketing is obviously to differentiate. And if you sound like everybody else, it's very hard for people to see you as being different. So I love that it was great insight. So we have a couple of questions we like to ask our guests. And the first one is very simple. What's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given? Miriam?

Mariam: Good one, I think the best piece is really three things, right? learn, relearn, and unlearn. And I think in today's fast paced world, and no one can claim to be an expert in everything. And sometimes it's meeting and really embracing that. continuous learning is really key. And I also would advise people to concentrate on what you can control, really. And you can always control your attitude, your activity and the level of your efforts. So I think the combination of the two was the best marketing advice I've personally received. And I hope that will help someone else as well. That's great. I

Mike: love that. The next question is, what would you say if somebody was thinking about entering marketing as a career, somebody young? Do you think it's a career that's going to have a lot of prospects in the future? Or would you recommend they look elsewhere? Oh,

Mariam:  I definitely think there are a lot of exciting prospects out there, in general, for every person that is at the very start of their career journey doesn't matter if it's marketing or anything else, I would really recommend getting as much real world experience as possible. Like any internship, you can get any hands on opportunities you can get, do that. Because that would really help you align your expectations. And we all have expectations as we enter the workforce, with the reality of the field, the reality of the job. And I say that really from the personal experience. You know, I wanted to be a stockbroker, once before, I found by way, marketing, two completely different fields so and what helped me is really going for those internships and getting the real world experience, and it made me see what I was more passionate about. So I think that's really important. I think I mentioned earlier as well. Another important piece that I would specifically give to the marketing people is, again, try to be honest and authentic in your communications. And really think about trust as you build your career. The trust you build as a marketer in your environment, but you also built through your company communications as well. I

 Mike: love it. That's that's a great way to end the interview. Thank you very much. I mean, we've talked about so much if people have questions for you, Miriam, what's the best way for them to get ahold of you?

Mariam: Yeah, first of all, thank you for having me. I absolutely enjoy the questions. And yeah, I would really invite everyone to connect with me on LinkedIn. I guess that's the easiest way. Feel free to reach out if you have any question So in store if you'd like to continue the conversation, I'm always welcoming feedback or an inquiry. So we'll be happy to connect. Thank you so much

Mike: for being on podcast man has been a great conversation and I hope you you know, continue making the world a better place and, you know, using some sort of products that make people more sustainable 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.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Matt Swalley - Omneky

Matt Swalley, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer at Omneky, an AI-powered ad platform, sat down with Mike to discuss the possibilities of AI in advertising and how businesses can maximise the benefits of AI-generated content in their campaigns.

He also shares why testing is integral to campaign success and why human input is essential when working with AI-generated content.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Omneky

Omneky is an AI-powered platform that uses state-of-the-art deep learning to create and personalise creative content across customer touchpoints. Machine learning algorithms analyse designs and messaging and these insights are used to generate the content most likely to drive sales.

About Matt Swalley:

Matt Swalley is Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Omneky. Matt brings 13 years of strategic leadership experience and has an undergraduate degree from the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University, and an MBA from Warrington College of Business at the University of Florida.

Time Stamps

[00:46.01] – Matt discusses his career and why he moved from a corporate to a start-up role.

[06:34.08] – What is Omneky? How does it help its customers?

[13:49.09] –Matt discusses the importance of testing ads and campaigns.

[15:22.2] – Matt explains why human involvement is a must in AI-generated content.

[18:02.00] – Matt shares some use cases of Omneky.

[23:23.02] – Matt offers her marketing top tip.

Quotes

“The best part about AI is people's jobs are not necessarily being eliminated. They're being changed. People can think much quicker on concepts and stuff.” Matt Swalley, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer at Omneky.

Follow Matt:

Matt Swalley on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-swalley-59249533/

Omneky website: https://www.omneky.com/

Omneky on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/omneky/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Matt Swalley - Omneky

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Matt Swalley

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

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Max Swalley. Matt is the Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of Omneky. Welcome to the podcast, Matt.

Matt: Hi, Mike, thank you so much for having me really excited to be here.

Mike: It's great to have you on. I'm really interested in about your career. And in particular, you know, you've recently jumped from a very corporate background into a startup. So tell me how you got to AT and T and then why you decided to change and co founder, I'm lucky.

Matt: Yes. Sounds great, Mike. So I spent 13 years at large corporation, at&t and I did a lot of different roles. And what's one of the best opportunities of working for you know, as a fortune 10 company for many of those years with 250,000 employees is, you get the opportunity to a lot of different things. over the 13 years, I did probably 15 different jobs and lived in eight different markets, some of the biggest markets in the US. So Dallas, Atlanta, Southern California, where I lead sales teams, and the earliest days I was carrying a bag is what they called it, where you're picking up the phone and calling you know, 50 customers a day setting up primarily new lead generation through calls and emails. And that kind of will go into my discussion later about how digital needs to be the base today. But I learned a lot about meeting with 1000s of customers learning how to ask questions, selling is all asking questions. And then I took that on and expanded it into leading teams in Southern California across like the biggest territory. And then I took on some leadership roles in mobility applications. So selling software for at&t, like GPS tracking about a bunch of their software services. And I made this decision, I want to get to headquarters because all decisions are made in headquarters. So that was one of my biggest transitions was moving to the headquarters in Dallas, Texas, and get into be around the leaders I led a sales organisation in Dallas initially and then became a chief of staff for the global business officer who ran all the multinational relationships for 18 T communications. And it was a really, really great big picture moment where I was getting to see big, big p&l hiring in every region of the world. We had customers in London in the UK, Japan, every single region. So learning a tonne about multinational companies and how you know how to sell. And then I got my MBA during that. And this was like my second career defining moment there was I made a decision, I want to get into corporate strategy. So I got into corporate strategy day PNP spent two years doing financial analysis, go to market strategy Board of Directors materials, and learning how to work with big datasets and tell stories for senior executives and the board of directors. And during that time, I got really excited about technology and growth stage companies, especially in artificial intelligence. And that's where I met Hikari singe the CEO of Omneky who is the best visionary I've ever seen. He was years ahead, knowing general AI was going to get to where it is today and joined him on that journey. At a early early stage startup at the time, had raised a little bit of seed money, right when I joined, but we primarily bootstrapped and almost profitable in the early days, where Hikari was running most of the different operations from sales to engineering, and I joined as the business leader about two years ago from today.

Mike: Awesome, congratulations. I'm really trying to dig a bit deeper way to this this jump I mean, you're AT and T you at the headquarters, you say presumably in a well paid secure job. I mean, I think a lot of listeners will be interested now. How do you find that courage to jump to something that appears so incredibly risky?

Matt: Yeah, so I always had kind of entrepreneurship in my heart. So like the earlier my job before 18 T, I spent at a small business where I ran an entire territory for a small uniform company in Chicago. But I always had this like business development opportunity where I love going out and making things happen myself, the hardest thing about working for a large corporation, you learn how to execute very well. And you get to sell established products most of the time and you have greenspace customers where you already have the relationships. But a lot of times you're not able to go figure out how to go to market, how to go sell a product, how to grow a business. And then the second biggest thing is is when you look at revenue and future projections, I really want to join a growth stage company where we can make a huge impact and we're a seed stage company with a goal to be, you know, an initial public offering in the next couple years. Some of the other industries are declining industry He's in, when you're in that situation, every decision is made an operational efficiencies instead of figuring out how to, you know, grow that next business unit 200 million or a billion dollars in revenue. And that's where I like, I love startups, because every day you're prioritising on what's most important that will make an impact to help grow this business and, you know, develop our team and find customers that fit our value prop.

Mike: I love that. I think it's, you know, it's absolutely true. Most people find growing, that sales number is far more exciting and far more interesting than shrinking that cost number.

Matt: This role a lot of things I learned in the past, how to organise teams, how to I learned a lot of marketing, channel marketing, for example, how to sell with or sell through customers, we're doing that a lot at arm to keep, they all are mission critical at a startup because a lot of leaders that startups are the most driven individuals, incredibly intelligent, know how to do so many things, but they haven't worked at large corporations and figured out how to, you know, build that operational cadence and structure into the day. And that's where you can immediately bring that knowledge from dealing with eight different levels and figuring out how to navigate the political environment and everything and you can, you can really simplify that all and then start building that into startup.

Mike: That's awesome. I love your enthusiasm around nominee keys. So do you want to talk about what I'm Nikki does, I mean, I got from the website, you're the omni channel creative orchestration platform, which is a bit of a mouthful, I think it probably needs some explaining.

Matt: Let's just say AI powered sales. And when I say that is digital advertising has to be the base for all sales. Primarily listeners here are in the B2B field. So in the past, you used to figure out ways to develop business from meeting in person making phone calls and emails, well, what we do is we tell businesses stories in different ways. So you have all these four different major criteria I keep going back to, you have different audiences for your product, and B2B, it could be a different vertical, like retail, you have different products and services. You also have different geographies with like localization, you could be based in the UK or based in, you know, Dallas, Texas. And then finally, you have different platforms. So this could be websites, or social apps, or a number of different things, people's attention spans keep getting shorter and shorter. So you can go follow your customers to wherever they are on different websites or apps and tell your business's story. That's what Omneky does. We tell your story in a lot of different ways, formatted for each platform. And then you can target and retarget those audiences. And lead generation is a major, major one of our focuses, especially for us, because we use digital ads for our own growth.

Mike: That's interesting. So what you're doing is you're kind of taking that story from the customer. And then you're being able to tell that in emotional, different formats on different platforms, different sizes. Is that really what you're doing? You're kind of doing this? It seems almost like repurposing on this massive industrial scale.

Matt: Right? Yeah. So it's called multivariate testing out there and marketing. And you can learn a lot from the data. So one step back on on McKee is we collect data from a lot of different places. One is third party data from advertising platform. So if you're advertising and have a couple of weeks or months worth of data, we can analyse like how many people are clicking for each of the different things, clicking or buying or generating a lead, or we care about qualified leads the most, so you can go farther down the funnel. But then you can use this tool called Computer Vision, which has been around for a long time, but it's getting better and better as well. It can identify different elements of the copy the image, the video, and then across all the people looking at an ad, you can start to like quantify, like what's resonating? What's the key headline for the audience, what's the key video length, what's and then you you can iterate off of what's working well. And then with testing also, like, you want to spend about 30% of your advertising on brand new concepts and about 70% on iterating off what's working, because the platform algorithms for like the major platforms, meta Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, for B2B are, the algorithms are constantly changing. And so you have to feel it with creative and then also targeting is becoming more restricted with GDPR, California Data Protection Act. So now creative is the major lever for distribution. So a lot of these platforms have really smart algorithms that recognise what people like and it will deliver an ad based on what you've been looking at in the past. And so the better creative you have that hits their needs, the more effective

Mike: so it's interesting. So you're creating these ads, images, text, etc. And you're looking at two things you're looking at how really to get preferred in the algorithm, but also what works in terms of what drives drives leads. Is that Is that really what you're trying to combine?

Matt: That's right. So it's a data based approach. And then also testing of new concepts. And one of the beautiful things with AI is like, is advertising still overall is too general, everyone talks about personalization, but there was broadcast before one ad reaching millions, then it was narrowcast, a little bit more narrow. And today you are entering a place where technology allows you to be so agile, it can be more and more personalised, it's not gonna be exactly personalised yet. But it could fit the audience, the vertical, the, like I mentioned, the platform, the product, they will piece those all together, and then deliver to the right set of small narrow customers that you're trying to get to. And you have to tell it across images and videos, and you go test what's working, and then raise budgets on what's performing well, and continue to iterate off of it.

Mike: So let's talk a little bit about what it feels like to be a user of Omneky then, I mean, how does someone use the platform? How do they they create content? And then how do they control where it goes? Because it sounds like it can be going in a huge number of different channels.

Matt: Yeah, Mike. So this is some of the exciting things of technology is bringing as well. So when you onboard, we have a platform. So you register on Omneky, and we have within our platform, you upload your brand assets. So the first guardrails, our enterprise has very specific brand guidelines, we stay within those. So you give us your fonts, your logos, your brand guidelines, in any raw assets that you have, you could have 1000s of assets, a lot of these big brands have so many assets. And what's beautiful to with technology right now is on Nikki's built a brand large language model that will like categorise and scan all the different assets in the library, and then make it really easy to go pull from them for different ads. So that's step one. The second is we connect to the advertising platforms for data. And then we have an immediate six month history of what's been performing well. So we look at that look at the criteria across all your platforms that you're advertising, Maddow Google, LinkedIn, Twitter, we look at it as a single pane of glass view, figure out what's been working. And then within four days, we're delivering a first set of ads. And that's getting shorter and shorter timeframe, it's a really quick turnaround, from onboarding to like four days out. And then it's a constant feedback loop of within our platform, we deliver ad creatives, once the customer approves them, they're launched into the platforms, we're collecting data and then iterating, in real time off the data.

Mike: I say interesting. So you're building these models? I mean, obviously, an important part of that is defining the audience. How do you do that? Because I think a lot of marketers find it quite hard to go from having an audience definition to seeing what that means really, in Google ads or on Facebook or on LinkedIn?

Matt: Sure, so you want to test two different things. So one is your testing actually defined audiences. So let's just give an example. You could pick different criteria of what you believe it's a good fit on the platform, you launch ads that are uniquely created exactly for that audience. The second one is you also want to use the algorithms that like performance Max and Google, for example, that just optimise on their own. So two different strategies there, you figure out what's working better there. And you know, a lot of times those algorithms that you're utilising with the platform that aren't just making a narrow targeting outperform the ones that are, you know, defined audiences. But really, you understand the customers belief for ideal customer profiles, and then you can go test each one of them. And then you might uncover some new ones based on the data, which is what we you know, we do as a company as well.

Mike: Fascinating. I think you keep coming back to talking about testing as well. And and you came up with this stat earlier, that is 70% of your ad budget should be placed on the on the sort of existing ads and and 30% on testing, I think you said, can you just unpack that and explain why you think that's important?

Matt: Yes, because still, like what we noticed across the market is there's lots of different platforms you can test on. So one of the beautiful things with Omneky is we have integrations with all the major channels. So when I say testing new concepts, it might just be expanding to a new platform even right, so you might want to go test Reddit, or Pinterest or you know, programmatic, like the trade desk, but you only understand the history from what you've tried from data. So there might be new avenues like testing, you know, like I mentioned performance Max with a brand new set of creative that you were before just doing, you know, narrow targeting that are going to outperform and you want to have creative for each one of these. So what I'm gonna keep does is we put like a strategy in place across all the different types of potential going to market and then we have creative that aligns with each one of those and you want to test both video and images for each one of those videos is still like 60% of ad test. And then for companies that are doing it in house, a lot of times they might only have expertise in one place and what are the key does we bring in the ability to go launch and all these different places very Be very quickly with whatever assets you have.

Mike: Awesome. And I mean, you've talked about AI. You know, I think people are imagining that there's, there's some AI just firing out all these different versions. But actually, you also have real humans behind this as well. So tell us, you know, I guess what are the humans do? And then why do you feel you still need human input?

Matt: Sure. So the best part about AI also is, people's jobs are not necessarily being eliminated, they're being changed. People can think much quicker on concepts and stuff. So AI, and we plug it in, in a lot of different areas of the workflow. And, for example, for ideation, for humour, different things like that. So creators could potentially use it to figure out brand new ideas on concepts, we have images, pretty much automated, right? So you can pull in, you can use assets from like four different places. One is from brand assets, you give us all your raw assets, we can use those for ads. The second is AI generated assets. So the technologies keep getting better, we also have an AI team that's refining all these processes and building your own algorithms. And then humans still have to review all the creative because AI is not perfect in any situation. So there's always a finishing touch where human craters can can look it over and also use or scanning for bias, like generation one of these models had a lot more bias than generation two, right. And so it requires a human on the loop on our side. And then also on the customer side, you want to have two different checkpoints. before things go live, we have this approval dashboard, the customer could have, you know, five different approvers in there, including legal and compliance. You don't want anyone anything going live until you know it's got a stamp of approval that it looks ready to go. And then video, there are video tools that are amazing. And we're working with some really, really cool technology we're building. But video cannot be completely done through automation today. It's not it's not there yet. It can though. Plugin inputs help you piece together the story, what assets to use, but it's still going to have to have a human that helps piece it all together. For the most part.

Mike: It sounds fascinating. It sounds like you're, you're using AI as an accelerant to really speed up what individuals can do to be able to scale at the kind of scale you're talking about.

Matt: That's exactly right. So like a lot of enterprise businesses are either like duplicating assets times, you know, 50 within a whatever programme they're using, and then they're changing stuff, or, you know, manually and what we're doing is we're making that whole workflow so efficient that AI can help power the different areas, the content and the images, and then click a button and you have all the different sizes you need and ready to go.

Mike: Cool. So maybe we can dig into some of the uses, particularly in B2B. I mean, does Omneky go as far as being able to do sort of, you know, Account Based Marketing campaigns where you're, you're focusing down on single big accounts or two people tend to use it for, you know, broader campaigns.

Matt: It's typically more broader campaigns today with our success, like we use it for ourselves. So we have a number of different focuses. One is enterprise B2B. One is resellers agencies that are using our product. So each one of those has a specific advertising goal and a specific value prop and messaging, each one of them has different things. That's where we plug in, we tell the stories for each of those specific audiences in different ways. You could, with enterprise, you could take it deeper into Account Based Marketing, where you're focusing on one single account doing the ads, it's just, you're not going to have as much reach and as much data coming back because you're targeting like one very small audience.

Mike: That's interesting. So you need to you need that volume of data to be able to analyse what's working, presumably.

Matt: That's exactly right, the more data the better. So like, we recommend that the minimum like our minimum spend for testing is typically like $10,000 a month in ad spend. That's where you're getting enough eyeballs. And then when B2B that the other thing I wanted to mention is sales has changed a lot like people don't pick up their phone, you're getting 1000s of emails a day might and better say like, you know, schedule a demo, will advertising polls customers to you. And then you can figure out how you're how you can start to refine your demo in your questioning and moving the process through the funnel in a different way. And so, historically, sales organisations had lots of people doing outbound and meeting with customers. Today, you can have a smaller team, that's figuring out how like to deal with the incoming leads, route them in the right way, you know, don't take meetings that don't fit with who you can sell to, and then refining your value prop and pitch and questioning until you start to improve the ratio of sales close. That's really the way we look at it. It's like big deals coming to us. We figure out how to refine the process and prove efficiencies there. tell our story and better ways to drive more and then continually qualify and more Wow, that sounds

Mike: cool. I mean, maybe you can, you know, just paint a bit of a clearer picture. Do you have a couple of campaigns you can talk about that, you know, have really worked on on Nikki and delivered some great results.

Matt: Sure. So one specifically, we have a couple in. One is omni channel, the one you said earlier, Omni platform will call Omni platform distribution, this campaigns worked really, really well for us, because B2B marketers, and anyone in marketing has, as I mentioned, a big big challenge figuring out how to produce content for all these different channels. They might have expertise and just meta or LinkedIn, excuse me, but they don't across all. So we've gotten tonnes of interest from all different sizes of corporations, including lots in the Fortune 1000 range from those add greatest. The second one is if you have any great live, like videos of explaining your product. So another one for us was TechCrunch. We were a finalist at TechCrunch. disrupt the CEO did a demo of that on stage. And you can repurpose all this as ads. So that was focused on really the the mid market enterprise space. And that performed extremely well, any of that content, you can have and repurpose, like right away. When we start having content like that a lot of times we're repurposing his ads, and if they perform extremely well,

Mike: that's great. I mean, I think great content always works well, doesn't it? And any kind of AI magic is going to struggle unless you have that inherent good content start with.

Matt: That's right. Cool.

Mike: I mean, you mentioned people need to check. You know, everyone's gonna be wondering, we've all heard about AI getting things wrong. I mean, what are the main problems you find? When people are rejecting ads that have been generated by the system? I mean, what's the AI doing to get things wrong?

Matt: So some of the things that we see is one is, and this is what we see is one of the major challenges with AI, a lot of times it will repeat the same things over and over again. So you have to figure out how to ask it the prompts and different ways to generate different emotional responses or different ways to, you know, tell your story. So that's one thing we're building there. The second is a lot of the image generations in the early stages are not perfect. So you can train AI on what a product looks like, you could have a, you know, a specific product that has your brand logo on it and everything, when you're just trying to regenerate that in completely new situations, a lot of times, the text on it doesn't show up, right, there's a lot of challenges. So now, you know, what you're doing is you're figuring out how to make that exact product or service appear with whatever the production is you want without production, manipulating the backgrounds in different areas or putting into videos with overlays. But a lot of times the biggest challenge was not getting things perfect. And then you have to figure out other ways of doing it that will make that area of it perfect.

Mike: That makes sense. So so it's it's not necessarily going for some really crazy disastrous failures, it's much more it's not quite perfect. And, you know, clearly brands want it to be perfect.

Matt: The brands want to be perfect. And that's still why you need a human touch point in there for a lot, especially for the enterprise space.

Mike: That makes sense. This, this has been fascinating, man. I mean, one of the things I'm intrigued with is, you know, you're obviously not actually drilling from a marketing background. We're talking a lot about marketing and marketing technology. I mean, what's the best marketing advice you've ever received?

Matt: Yeah, I was actually a marketing major, believe it or not back in the day, and then went into the sales path, and then corporate strategy, and then transition to marketing. But some of the best advice I've heard is just start testing. Like, even with whatever, you know, I mentioned, you have to have a pretty good budget. But you can learn so much from getting 1000s or millions of eyeballs on something that could take a team, you know, months or years to realise your product might not sell the way you believe it's going to so you can just start testing. The second one is with AI the way it is today, try out as many of these tools as you can, that are available out in the market. Like, I'm sure you do this to Mike. But every morning, I review a newsletter I love about AI, I look at the 10 newest products on there. And I go test one or two of them. Because eventually you start to figure out how to piece all these together and figure out what helps us for what we're building but to it helps you understand the big picture of how all these pieces can fit together. Because we're at this stage right now, where AI is the first initial wave of it here after chat GPT got launched in you know, the open initial open API's. It was a cool factor. It was like this is cool. This has never been done. But it wasn't completely solving a business problem. Now we're entering the stage where businesses are getting to the point where they're solving business problems and beginning to learn how to scale those problems. test as many of the tools as possible.

Mike: I think that's great advice. I mean, there's so many AI tools that you look at and you see the script, you think Oh, that's amazing. And then you start playing with it and you go Yeah, I'm not sure how it's gonna help me. And then the cost of

Matt: compute star I'd say add up to with anything with scale, like you can try it with a small scale. But then once you start to like, do it a larger scale cost a lot more money.

Mike: Yeah, definitely. I mean figures? Well, you know, I mean, you obviously started in marketing, you moved out of marketing, you've kind of come back a little bit into marketing. I mean, you're more business than the marketing still. I mean, do you recommend young people look at marketing as a career? Or what would you do? If you were starting again? Would you take that marketing major?

Matt: Yes. So I would, growth is one of the biggest roles if you want to join a startup, it's going to be a role that comes in more like its series, a stage head of growth, but head of growth has to understand marketing direct partnerships channel, they're kind of that overall marketing person that's in your company. And, and I have learned so much in the last two years from talking with eight customers a day sometimes or prospective customers a day might I hear I hear feedback from all these agencies, enterprise companies of what the business problem is. And I look at the world completely differently on how to go to market now. You have to figure out how to synergistically combine all your different direct outreach with retargeting with ads. Otherwise, none of it works. If you're not your PR is not firing away with news, your ads aren't going and your direct is not going. So yes, I believe it's a great base, but you also want to go try out different areas of the business because it gives you a much wider view of strategy.

Mike: Definitely, I think it's good advice. I mean, I'm very mindful of time. I'm in tricks, though, you know, the platform I'm Nikki seems to have so many different capabilities. Is there anything else you'd like to talk about or highlight from the platform that you think we haven't covered yet, Matt?

Matt: Sure. So one of the really exciting things we're working on right now is, is of course video and figure in, there's some really great AI tools that help tell different languages, transcribe what's on it. And then really exciting to is these virtual avatars. So one of the things we're we are working on right now is you can write a script and everything will follow our company's specific product. And then you can immediately create a virtual avatar that tells your story that can go on ads. So I really am excited about this technology, as we're, as we're developing it as another, you know, another area from testing for for ads.

Mike: Oh, that's cool. I mean, we we've been playing with some of that technology as well. And I think it's certainly at the moment, it's very compelling whether people will, in the longer term get to be able to spot you know, who's a real person who's not? I don't know, that's an interesting question.

Matt: Right? I know, it's gonna be interesting, because it went from like, user generated content to you know, there's a lot of different people that can go tell tale product stories to now. Virtual.

Mike: Exactly. I mean, Matt, it's just been amazing. We've we've covered so much, it feels like we've only scratched the surface of Omneky and your experience, but it's been fascinating. If anyone's listening or they'd like to get ahold of you, what's the best way for them to contact you?

Matt: Sure you if you want to get a demo, and on occasion, go to www.omneky.com and schedule a demo and put in the code you heard about in the marketing B2B technology podcast. That would help and then or you can reach out to me at Matt ma TT at Omneky.com. Or find me on LinkedIn.

Mike: That's awesome. Matt, thank you so much for sharing all your knowledge and the information about Omneky, I really appreciate it.

Matt: Thank you so much might been a pleasure.

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.


The Future of AI in Marketing Automation

How is AI going to shape the future of our marketing automation campaigns? From the latest announcements from leading platforms in the industry, to how AI could revolutionise lead scoring, Mike Maynard and Hannah Wehrly explore the latest news and developments in marketing automation. They also look at predictions on how marketing automation is expected to grow in the coming years and the role automation plays in customer retention and growth.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode Ten - The Future of AI in Marketing Automation

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Welcome to the Market Automation Moment Podcast. I'm Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard. This is Napier's podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketing automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment podcast. This week we talk about the growth in spending market automation, the new Einstein co pilot from Salesforce, act on AI, predictive lead scoring. And we talk about how marketing automation can be used to keep in touch with customers after they make a purchase. Welcome back to another episode of modern automation moment. Mike, it's great to be back.

Mike: It's great to be back with you, Hannah. It's been a little while and I think we've got a lot to catch up on.

Hannah: Yes, we have a lot of exciting updates to catch on actually, because it's been a really interesting last month in the market automation landscape. So I'm gonna dive right in. And we've talked about some figures before, but I've actually come across some reports from a marketer and allied market research. And they had some really big figures in there about the future of the mahr tech spending industry. So they believe that there will be a growth from 15 point 31 million USD in 2020, to 27 point 11 billion in 2024. For the martec spent, I mean, a lot of this is going to be through the driver, the growth and the craze of AI tools. But I think this is spectacular that the way the industry is pointing is that the spending is going to increase. And so the advantages to marketers is just going to be amazing.

Mike: Yeah, definitely. I mean, I think one of the interesting things they're saying is that actually, you know, around 2023 is going to be a low point in marketing spend growth, and people are going to actually see their budgets increased by a greater percentage over the next couple of years. So it's quite exciting. I think a lot of that, obviously, is people trying to buy AI tools and see how they work. We're still to some extent in a experimental phase. But clearly, there's a lot of people getting benefits from AI, and that's going to drive more investment.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I mean, the next thing we're about to talk about Mike is really going to reinforce this, and this is Dreamforce. So this was Salesforce, his yearly conference, which actually took place last month in September. And not surprisingly, AI was a really big key topic. And the most exciting thing that they've released is a new generation of Einstein. So the Einstein one platform. Now I have to say, I'm a big fan of the cartoon character, it really sells me on the platform. But actually, the capabilities as well is really quite amazing. So they've actually introduced the Einstein copilot, which is basically an AI and system, which is built into the user experience of every Salesforce application. So it can help draft customer code, it can provide a sales recommended steps to close deals faster, propose copy for emails, I mean, the possibilities are limitless. What do you think about it?

Mike: Well, I think you know, me, I have to make a snarky comment. And it'd be great if the people who were responsible for the user experience of Salesforce were, you know, as talented as some of the cartoonists because, you know, we all know Salesforce is a real challenge to us. And I guess this is what they're trying to address. Einstein is actually going to be there to help Salesforce users do the things they want to do, and hopefully overcome some of the challenges you've got around the user interface user experience.

Hannah: I think as well, you know, Mike, you've mentioned this before, but eventually in the future AI is going to disappear and disappear into the sense not that it won't be around anymore. But that will become such a seamless integration, people won't know what's AI and what's not. It really feels like this Einstein platform is the first step to really making that a reality.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think it's still, you know, it's being promoted as something separate. And it's still this, this shiny kind of thing. But certainly my view is more and more AI will be embedded into products. And, you know, to some extent, we won't actually know we're using AI, the product will just work better, it'll work more efficiently. I mean, if you look at, you know, the the claim for Einstein, they cite several customers that are using it. And this is their quotes to improve productivity, drive revenue and create personalised experiences. That sounds like you Salesforce. So you know, there's everything that Salesforce should be doing anyway. And I think having this Einstein layer outside is a first step. As we move forward, I think what we'll see is more and more the AI will just be embedded within the product. And we won't be talking about it so much. It won't be this, this new shiny thing, it will be the entry ticket, everyone will have to have aI within their system.

Hannah: That's a really good point, Mike, and you know me I'm very enthusiastic. I like to look ahead, but I think that it's such a valid point, because at the moment and I mean, when we were looking around for the news The things and updates to talk about in this podcast, everything because AI focused everything's about AI is this really shiny new thing. But eventually, you know, that platform won't be separate. And as you said, it'll just be something that set up from the start from the get go based on these market automation platforms.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think we still have this this concern that as more and more AI is deployed, the opportunity to generate higher and higher volumes of communications, particularly emails are going to increase. I mean, I don't know whether we're going to see a situation where, you know, all these personalised AI messages begin to swamp our inboxes. I mean, my email inbox is busy enough as it is. And clearly, it's gonna be very hard for spam filters, or, you know, the prioritisation filters to actually select our AI generated content versus personal emails. So it's gonna be interesting to see what happens that and I'm really hoping that what we don't see is we don't see the value of marketing automation, and email marketing decrease, because everybody's overusing it. And that clearly is one of the concerns. And one of the potential downsides of AI. I mean, AI has got downsides as well as upsides.

Hannah: That's a really good point, Mike. And it is the upsides versus the downsides. Because one of the key things they're setting Einstein platform in is this generative AI, but as you said, actually, is that not as positive as it could be? It's really going to be interesting to watch and see kind of how it unfolds.

Mike: For sure, and I mean, I'm sure everyone has had experiences like I've had, where we've received emails that are AI generated. And she kind of No, because what they're doing is they're taking a line of description from the website, it doesn't feel real. And I think generative AI is still got a little way to go to write those absolutely compelling emails, if you just want to tick a box and get a marketing email out, then fine. I mean, generative AI does a decent job. But the reality is, is that those stunning emails that really grab attention, there still tend to be human written. And it's gonna be interesting to see how AI manages to close that gap with creativity, and doing things different than actually grab attention.

Hannah: Absolutely. So I want to move on just a little bit. So still AI focused? Of course it is. But Salesforce also announced a Slack AI. So this is an AI programme that's going to enhance the slack platform. So it's all about making the more admin and the more manual tasks more automated. So it's going to enable users to search for answers, it's going to enable them to have fresh summaries. I mean, it seems like a really simple thing, but I think it's actually going to be quite effective. As a company, we don't use Slack. But we know a lot of companies that do so what do you think, do you think just this simple kind of integration is actually going to be really beneficial?

Mike: Do you know I mean, a lot of the hype at the moment is all about generative AI and creating stuff with AI. I think one of the, you know, incredible powers of AI is summaries. And I know I mean companies that are very into Slack, it's impossible to keep up with that flow of information that's going through. And so people, you know, if they've been away on holiday, they really have been left out. And rather than having to go back and read, you know, 1000s of slack messages, to have aI summarise, what's happened, I think is incredibly powerful. We're gonna see it all over the place. I mean, I know that, for example, Mikekrosoft, in a different area talked about when you record a team's meeting, they're gonna bring in AI to be able to summarise that meeting and potentially give you action items. I think as marketers, we're going to start seeing this AI, do sort of that summary, and action point work for us very, very soon. And across all sorts of platforms, that's going to work. So it's not just Salesforce driving that. But I think, you know, if we look at Mikekrosoft and Google, they'll also be providing similar platforms. And hopefully, that's going to save a little bit of pain when it comes to writing meeting minutes. I'd certainly be up for that.

Hannah: Me too. Me too. I think the key point there, Mike is, you know, as marketers, we do get really sidetracked by the shiny items by the really exciting things with the in depth analysis and how they can support the data. But actually, that more admin side is going to help me faster and quicker than that marketing and and that generative AI within the platforms at the moment.

Mike: Definitely. So let's move on. What's the next shiny item you found in the news?

Hannah: Well, the next shiny item is a bit of a controversial one, Mike, because, you know, we've spoken about this before, but I'm a big fan of lead scoring. It's not that you don't like lead scoring, but you're not as into the benefits of it, I would say and act on has actually released an AI predictive lead score, which is basically a feature that's going to work within their act on platform to help marketers narrow the marketing funnel and really hone in on the strongest leads. What do you think about this? Do you think it's beneficial, or is it going to offer more problems than what it's worth?

Mike: It's really interesting. So, I mean, I'm not completely against lead scoring, I think one of the challenges that people have with lead scoring is that you need a fairly high volume of prospects and customers to make it work. So if you're looking at clients that we work with that have, you know, very small number of customers, for example, you know, we've got clients that sell, you know, high value capital equipment, they don't sell, you know, 1000s, or hundreds. So, you know, some of them even have one major customer. Yeah, doing predictive lead scoring on that is almost impossible, because the data is so limited. And certainly AI learning based upon a small number of very high value customers, it's going to take a long time to learn and that AI is then going to lag, the customer behaviour. So AI has got issues when you've got low volume, when you look at moving into some of our clients that have high numbers of customers, then they're I think that's where AI lead scoring is going to be really good. I mean, one of the things that interests me is, I see people generate lead scoring algorithms, and that their rating, you know, what drives people to be a customer. And honestly, they're probably writing the things they think are important, and perhaps even the things they spent a long time generating, you know. So if you spend a lot of time creating white papers, you probably score those very highly, the great thing about AI is it's going to take away some of that bias. And it's actually going to score based upon what really drives people to become customers. Now, of course, you've got to get that data on what actually happened, and how that links to someone becoming a customer. And again, in b2b, that can be very difficult because the purchaser can be different from the person who's actually the decision maker. And we all know that attribution is one of these hugely challenging problems. But I do think it makes sense to introduce AI. And I do think it can have some significant benefits, as I say, particularly around really getting to the bottom of what does correlate with someone becoming a customer, rather than what we think is important as marketers,

Hannah: I absolutely love that. Mike, I think you hit the nail on the head when you said it takes away the bias. I mean, as a marketer myself, you know, I spend forever on blogs. And I'm like, Well, if someone reads a blog, it's got to be important, right. But that's not necessarily the journey they're actually taking. That's important. So I think that's such a valuable point, because it will really help with identifying and digging down and especially in the tech industry as well, is what's actually important, and what's actually driving the people to make the decisions.

Mike: Yeah, for sure. And to some extent, you actually don't need AI because you can measure it and use maths, the AI is going to try and pattern match a bit more quickly. So that can potentially generate results sooner. I mean, the other thing I noticed was, you know, whilst act on made a big thing about the lead scoring, they to also announce at the same time that they've got generative AI to create emails. So, you know, again, that's going to be interesting, because what you potentially be doing is running your run AI looking at what was driving leads in the past, but then having a completely different email strategy, because it's easier to generate personalised emails, because you've got aI within the platform. So I think if you look at what's you know, what's happening, it's gonna be hard to get really good results on lead scoring all the time, because you're always dealing with historic data. And most people develop, expand and improve their marketing campaigns. But for sure, particularly if you have a large number of customers, AI is going to be a key part of actually scoring and prioritising leads.

Hannah: Yeah, absolutely agree. That's a really insightful thoughts. Thanks, Mike. So I'm weary of time. So I do want to move on to our insightful Tip of the Week. And we've spent a lot of time previously talking about how we can use market automation for lead nurturing, and for gaining new leads for the customer journeys. But what I'm really interested in talking about today is about keeping in touch with existing customers. And I think sometimes market is gonna get in the trap of like, okay, great, we've got the customer, we don't need to do anything to them anymore. We don't need to nurture them. But in my opinion, I actually think nurturing existing customers is so valuable to accompany. And so I'd like to get your thoughts on how beneficial is it to use your marketing automation platform to really nurture those existing customers? And how do you draw the line between staying in touch and annoying them?

Mike: Yeah, this is really interesting. I mean, I was introduced to this when I was learning about drip marketing at university. And I remember our drip marketing lecture. He said, If you're selling a car to consumers, only one question you have to ask. And, you know, we tried to guess the question. He eventually said, look, it's how long do you want to keep the car for? And apparently, that's a very accurate thing. When you ask a consumer, how long they expect to keep a car for. They normally give an accurate prediction, of course, what you need to do as a marketer, once you've sold the car is to be talking to them when they're picking their next car, whether that's in three years or five. previous time or whenever. And so I think we forget how important it is when we make that sale, to think about the next sale. And so with marketing, in b2b, it's absolutely the same, you know, quite often we're working with customers who, you know, perhaps have multiple projects running, certainly, we'll have a new project at some point in the future. And what we need to do is we need to engage them to help them in the period where we're waiting for that next project. And that can be all sorts of things that can be providing information to help them use the products that they've actually chosen, you know, great example would be in some of our seMikekonductor companies, people purchase evaluation boards, these complex boards to let engineers understand how to use a seMikekonductor product. Why are marketers not emailing those engineers, to help them get up to speed more quickly, and improve that experience of using one of your products. And equally as they move through the design, we also know there'll be choosing other products. So you know, it's the same thing, if you look at, you know, someone doing a factory automation project, quite clearly, there's a big deployment of products into the factory to upgrade, but then it's all sorts of things around maintenance, that gives you opportunities to go and sell in more services, or indeed, sometimes more products. And I think as marketers, we need to, you know, forget about we market sell, and we're done. And actually think about a much longer relationship with a customer, I think about the customer over their whole lifetime, rather than over one purchase journey.

Hannah: I really like that Mikek. And I think what I would add to that as well is that within the market automation platforms themselves is this sort of communication doesn't need to be hard. It can be really easy. It's it's automations, you can set up a year in advance, you know, oh, we are customer has been this engineers. When we've asked for six months, let's do a check in. It's not something that you necessarily have to think about every day. But having those automations set up for success from the start is really important and being successful.

Mike: definitely agree. I mean, you do an amazing thing, for example, on anniversaries of clients working with us sending them birthday cakes and things like that. So, you know, very simple things can actually make a really big difference.

Hannah: Absolutely. Well, thanks so much for your time again today, Mike, it's been a really interesting conversation.

Mike: Thanks, Hannah. And hopefully we'll talk to our listeners again on the next episode of The Marketing Automation moment.

Hannah: Thanks for listening to the marketing automation moment podcast.

Mike: Don't forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we'll see you next time.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Jodi Cerretani - RollWorks

Jodi Cerretani, VP of Marketing at RollWorks, an Account Based Marketing platform, sat down with Mike to discuss how marketers can use ABM to maximise their marketing efforts and how RollWorks can support this process. Jodi shares why it is more important than ever to focus on intent and how this can set you up for success. She also offers the best advice she has been given and provides her own advice for new marketers starting their careers.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About RollWorks

RollWorks is an account-based marketing platform for B2B marketing and sales. Through proprietary data and machine learning, RollWorks helps teams identify their target accounts and key buyers, reach those accounts across multiple channels, and measure program effectiveness.

Time Stamps

[00:27.00] – Jodi shared a little about her career journey and what lead her to RollWorks.

[04:20.00] – What is Rollworks? How does it help its customers – Jodi shares her insights.

[08:41.00] –Mike and Jodi discuss integrations and target audiences in ABM marketing

[12:49.00] – What marketing strategies and tactics does RollWorks use itself?

[17:02.00] – Jodi talks about measurement and pricing transparency

[21:47.00] – Jodi offers her marketing advice and industry insights

Quotes

“I think you have to be comfortable with a certain amount of ambiguity and instinct. Yes, this matters. Yes, this is going to drive action. Yes, this is worth my time. And it, it pushes the initiatives of a business forward, even though I can't see it in my…revenue.” Jodi Cerretani, VP of Marketing at RollWorks.

Follow Jodi:

Jodi Cerretani on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jodicerretani/

RollWorks website: https://www.rollworks.com/

RollWorks on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/rollworks/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Jodi Cerretani - RollWorks

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Jodi Cerretani

Mike: Welcome to marketing b2b technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Jodi Cerretani. Jodi is the VP of Marketing at RollWoks. So welcome to the podcast. Jodi.

Jodi: Thank you so much for having me, Mike. I'm excited to be here.

Mike: So Jodi, tell me a bit about your career journey seems really interesting. He started off, like studying psychology and then went into marketing. So how you ended up in marketing, and then ultimately got some role works?

Jodi: Yeah, so I think back on that on those college years, I remember very little honestly, Mike about the individual classes that I took in my psychology jority. But I do think that college taught me very much about how to learn and definitely expose me to a tonne of people, I did a number of different things outside of college, I managed women's resource and Action Centre, I did some independent research, I was a TA etc. And over the years, I've been told that my velocity of learning is one of my biggest strengths. And that sort of skill isn't really decoupled from my people skills. So I think I tend to have a flexible approach when it comes to different people a different approach for different people. And I tend to get people very quickly, my husband actually says, I have a knack for difficult people. And I think that's just meaning that I tend to connect with and find ways to understand and motivate different people. And I think that core that velocity of learning coupled with people instinct, allows me to nail a foundation in b2b marketing that's necessary. And that is to really understand what is going to motivate people to take action. So I think that that, that journey, starting in psychology and the little nuances to that, that early part of my education, definitely did help set me up for success, but maybe slightly less literally than one might imagine from someone with my background. So I think I ended up in in Legion or demand generation, I've run all of marketing now.

But I definitely can't unring the demand gen Bell, I definitely have that orientation. And probably we'll always be looking to create, you know, revenue for our company. So I spent a number of years in the latter part of of college doing independent research. And I quickly learned through that experience that I am way too impatient for that line of work. And I really needed to be in a career where the effort that I was making, even on a daily basis was connected to impact, important impact right away. So in research, as I'm sure you're aware, you could do many years of conducting the research, and then it takes many years to publish and create impact. And that just wasn't going to work for me. So it was very obvious to me, I needed to shift into a career where that could be possible. And that's very much the nature of demand gen and b2b marketing these days. So as far as how I ended up at RollWoks, I'm lucky and blessed to have worked with a number of very talented people over the years. And one of those individuals, a fella by the name of Mike stocker was that role works. And he reached out and shared just the details of the company and really inspired me with how incredible the culture was incredible the leadership was and really the potential of this space. So that was kind of the initial hook. But beyond that, I have learned about myself that I have a particular passion for helping other marketers, you know, peers, people in my role or aspiring to be in my role really earn the seat at the table. And I think one of the direct ways to do that is to allow those individuals to make an impact on the business and to prove that impact. And so, ABM and roadworks and sort of our charter very much connects into that personal ambition that I have. So it was a bit of a combination, I suppose, of getting that endorsement from Mike and some of those key elements of the the business model Leadership, Culture, etc. But then, also being a company where I could continue to pursue that personal passion of mine.

Mike: That sounds awesome. And I love the way that you talked a lot about the company culture as a reason to join. But you also seem very enthusiastic about what the company actually does say, can you just tell listeners who don't know what RollWoks does? I mean, what, what do you offer customers?

Jodi: Yeah, so we offer our customers what we call a no nonsense Account Based Marketing platform that drives efficient revenue growth at b2b companies. It's a bit of a mouthful, but that's kind of a fancy way of saying that we make b2b revenue generation through marketing, tangible, scalable and less expensive than ever before. So so that's kind of the gist

Mike: of it. How are you doing that? Are you serving ads to particular company? So what's the approach when you say Account Based Marketing, so there's a lot of martech companies doing different things in the ABM space?

Jodi: For sure. So there are a lot of point solutions that are focused done kind of an account based approach or a fit, focused approach, role works, you know, as that platform we sort of are that end to end solution, helping folks realise the promise of ABM and the promise of ABM is is efficient by nature, because we're focused primarily, if not exclusively, on the accounts that are most likely to purchase in the near term and be most valuable to your business in terms of the average deal size, and their fit as a customer, and therefore their longevity as a customer. And additionally, the promises of ABM are really connected with sales and the rest of the go to market team. It is multi channel and highly what I like to call Hyper relevant messaging across your different channels. And it allows you to measure all these different initiatives in a single platform. So I think simply put, we help folks identify their best fit accounts to go after reach those accounts through ads, and then a variety of other marketing and sales channels, and then measure all that impact to top and bottom line metrics in kind of a single destination.

Mike: That's perfect. That's a great overview. I'd like to unpack it a bit, you said something which I think a lot of marketers were picked up, that you find accounts that are most likely to actually spend money, and also like to spend the most. So that seems like two different things that you're looking at intently, you're looking at FIT. Can you talk about how RollWoks does that?

Jodi: Yeah, so intent data, what it means to roll work, sometimes people use intent, the word intent to describe first party activities that they're able to track at the account level, some analysts use that term for role works, we separate intent as a third party pool of data, and then engagement as that first party pool of data. So it's true that we have incredible capability to connect into all the sources of activity data on the person and the account level and make sense of it. So a lot of times, marketers, we have different systems of record across marketing and sales, we've got our website that there's certain activities, we've got our marketing automation platform, perhaps we have a sales outreach tool, et cetera. And then additionally, our buyers are engaging with the rest of the web, right, which oftentimes is invisible to us. And so RollWoks has this incredible ability to be able to pull all of that data across the web, as well as all of your first party activity sources, and pull it up to the account level, whether they're, it's an anonymous individual that's acting, or whether it's a known individual, we can tie that up to the account record, and therefore have a complete understanding of all the activities that you might value as a business. So that's extremely powerful for our customers. Because as you said, it's not just about the fit, that's a great starting point, but it's also about their readiness. So looking across first and third party data to really understand their interests, their readiness, their willingness to buy, whether the timing is right. And their affinity as a company can allow you to do a whole slew of things that are really exciting in terms of prioritising the right accounts, and then acting on those accounts in a really relevant way.

Mike: That's great. I'm just interested, you mentioned, you know, obviously, that robot sits in an environment with a lot of other tools and is pulling in first party data maker from the market information platform and pulling in third party data. I mean, integrations must be huge part of what you do, how do you make sure you integrate with the products that your customers need? Because it seems like every day, there's a whole wave of new marketing technology products that you probably need to integrate with?

Jodi: Absolutely, yeah, I mean, we've made the deliberate choice as a vendor as a solution to really support a composable tech stack versus trying to build one tool to rule them all. And that's kind of unique in our space, our competitors are, are really trying to disrupt and in many cases, replace a lot of the other the mahr tech and sales tax solutions. But we found that when we talked to our customers, they are really intolerant of kind of the switching costs or the cost of ripping and replacing what they already are using. And to be honest, they believe that their needs are unique. And so they want to select you know, the the individual tools and technologies that fit their unique needs, as opposed to purchasing a behemoth tool that maybe have subpar or just slightly misfit capabilities when it comes to say email marketing or other things. So yes, integrations are very important to us. They're very important to our solution. And you're right, I think I'm not sure what it is now is it 9000 Martex. So allusions, and that's just on the marketing side of it. It's pretty wild. So it's not rocket science. Honestly, Mike, we're just constantly conducting customer interviews and really trying to understand who are the core technologies that our customers are using in order to support their account based motion or they're kind of demand gen to Dotto revenue, marketing, whatever you want to call it. So certain things are definitely going to be core like a marketing automation platform. We've got rich integrations with sort of a largest marketing automation platforms, gifting tools, intent sources, etc. And we make decisions about who to integrate with, I think we have 27 integration partners at this point, which is, is pretty beefy, and definitely checks all those core boxes that our customers need to and want to see. And those integrations continue to be our partnerships continue to be formed and and whilst sort of always be on that journey.

Mike: Yeah, I'm sure you keep a few developers busy with all these integrations. Absolutely. So what I'm really interested in finding out is who typically works with RollWoks, do you have a typical customer? Or is it a range of people that use the product?

Jodi: Yeah, it's a bit of a range, but neatly in two camps. So we like to say that we have two solutions and two audiences that are the right fit for those two solutions. On the one end, sort of on the upper end of the mid market and into the enterprise, we offer what most people see as the most sophisticated, targeted ad platform on the market. And that typically suits the needs of a b2b company that's in technology, manufacturing, business or financial services. And they're really looking for sort of the the Ferrari of of ads, most of the time, it's within an ABM practice, but they believe that advertisements is the most cost effective way to sort of reach and engage, convert, accelerate, etcetera, their business. And so they're really focused on that sort of channel and the offer that we have within that channel. And then on the other end, sort of on the other side of the market, we offer, what I have said we'd like to say is that no nonsense ABM solution for growth oriented small to medium sized businesses. And they're looking for full platform capability. So everything from identification of target accounts to engaging those target accounts across their channels and tools of choice, and then measuring all those capabilities with one tool. So I guess, strategically, the ABM market is pretty saturated. There's a lot of point solutions and different folks that if they didn't originally set out to solve an ABM kind of challenge or be in that market, they have aligned to that, that kind of growth in the market. And that that interest in ABM, it's very, it's very popular, it still is very popular as a category. And because of that, we're really looking for green space and aligning our solution and our go to market strategy to the to areas of the market we feel like are simply underserved by the capabilities that the other partners might have today. And so that's where you get this bifurcated approach and two very distinct markets looking for two distinct solutions.

Mike: And presumably, that impacts how you as RollWoks, do your marketing, you have to treat those two audiences very differently.

Jodi: It absolutely I mean, we've learned that it's best if we're very, very thoughtful about how we go to market because there are different as you can imagine, different buyers, different level of complexity, different members of the buying committee, different needs different messages, different ABM, maturity, et cetera. And so it really is very specific. And so we've built our internal teams and our approaches to be as relevant and also thoughtful I guess it in our approach and make sure that all the the mechanics of go to market are there and we're doing all the right things in terms of paying ourselves back and supporting growth in those two areas.

Mike: And I guess, I assume you're gonna say something about ABM when I start asking you about tactics and how you approach actually getting the message to those two audiences.

Jodi: Yeah, we definitely eat our own cooking as my head of sales like to say and it may or may not surprise you that for role works, we don't have a separate demand gen team that is distinct from our ABM team. In fact, we sort of see ABM and demand gen is one of the same in many ways, ABM is just our mindset or our North Star and how we approach going to market in a highly aligned and highly efficient way. That's definitely very much true. Were a last touch attribution house formally and so us and everyone else on the planet will see if their last touch attribution house that their most successful tactics are going to be eat anything that offers something that is as close to give me a meeting with sales as as possible. Those are those hand raising calls to action are obviously going to show up as the last thing that someone did before they booked a meeting and then ultimately down the road about your product. Specifically for us, I'll give drifta shout out here because drift is a chat solution. But they also have this capability that allows folks to kind of skip the form and choose a time of day that works for them to meet with a salesperson. So it eliminates that friction. And then on the on the back end, of course, it eliminates the drop off that you typically see between somebody submitting a form request you to speak to sales and when you can actually get them scheduled and to show up. And so drift actually is our number one source of demand, in part because we're a last touch attribution house. And that's just how the everything shakes out. But in part because it's a it's a really friction free process. But beyond sort of last touch, we obviously know that there's other important motions, other important touches, I should say, in the demand creation motion, you have to source buyers, we have to accelerate them along the process. And and that role works. The marketing team is also responsible for Retention and Expansion as well. So really, there's a lot that goes into it. So we do very carefully look at what what brings folks in what sort of moves them along what converts them, what encourages them to stay with us and buy additional things. And, and so we're very prescriptive in how we approach how are we going to resource these different types of motions. And depending on where we're seeing gaps in our funnel, that's where we shift our attention, and then invest in the right tactics at every sort of stage, depending on what impact we're focused on.

Mike: And I'm interesting, you've obviously said that you invest in different tactics, even though you really focus attribution on the last touch, and could hear me on a podcast, which is classic top of the funnel stuff. I mean, how do you justify investment when you're not actually measuring ROI directly for that activity?

Jodi: Yeah, I guess there's two answers to the question. One is, is I think regardless of what the tactic is, or what purpose it has, that you should always, as best you can, try to tie that investment, whether it's a investment in time, or investment, financial investment, to the most meaningful business outcome that you can, I think, as an orientation. And because of the capabilities of different tools and technologies and measurement capabilities that is standard today, we we are obligated as marketers to always try to connect our actions to business outcomes. Having said that, there is going to be a certain piece where it's very intangible. I was on a podcast a couple of weeks ago, and I had a customer, actually the decision maker for a really important customer who we've been trying to get connected with, in terms of an executive sponsor relationship. And she had been sort of not very responsive. And she happened to hear me on a podcast and reached out to our contact and was like, I would like to speak to your VP of Marketing, because I really liked some of the things that she was saying. I mean, what are the odds? Right, so, you know, in that case, that was the, quote, measurement. But obviously, it's anecdotal. And it's difficult to scale. So I think the second part of the answer, Mike, is that I am one of the most data driven business folks out there, but I even I know that there is going to be a part of marketing that is just intuitively right. And that is where there's a period at the end of that sentence, I think we have to be comfortable with a certain amount of ambiguity. And that your instinct on Yes, this matters, yes, this is going to drive action. Yes, this is worth my time. And it it pushes the initiatives of a business forward. Even though I can't see it in my quote unquote, sources of revenue, we have to be somewhat comfortable for that level of ambiguity. Yeah, I guess I'm talking about both sides of my mouth, but it is a complicated field. So you know, stay attached to business outcomes as best you can, but then leave room for the fact that you just aren't going to be able to measure every single thing.

Mike: That's first face it. I mean, things are not black and white, I guess. And I'm interested because RollWoks has somewhat changed its strategy on pricing a couple of years ago, RollWoks are very aggressive, very open about his pricing. And now you've chosen to take that off the website and you have to actually ask for the pricing. I'm interested in what drove the decision to change the strategy there.

Jodi: You just caught us in a moment of transition honestly, Mike, we definitely believe in transparency in the buying process, including being upfront about our price points and and particularly our starting price because it is resetting the standard in the market. For what ABM platforms full ABM platforms with for ABM platform capabilities ought to cost which you know, is you know, less than $1,000 ollars per month as a starting point, it's just that we're actually changing our pricing and packaging model a bit on the background. So to not confuse existing customers that are going through the sales process now, before we've been able to publish it, so stay tuned in just a short while we'll have pricey backup on the website. But regardless of the details, we definitely remain committed to being the right priced ABM solution and make sure that all businesses regardless of their size, or ABM sophistication, have a package that works for them both in terms of the impact they're looking to drive and the price point that is accessible for their particular budget.

Mike: What a great answer. I mean, I love the fact that you are committed to transparency and price. I think a lot of people get frustrated by the, you know, kind of a peak pricing that some people produce. And I suspect because we record these podcasts in advance, probably by the time this podcast is released, actually, you'll be back in you may well have the pricing on the site, people will be asking why are such a crazy question. But it was fascinating to get your answer.

Jodi: Yeah, no worries. But I think I agree with you. I think transparency is key, especially as we know that buyers are doing almost all of their research ahead of time, a lot of times the folks that are doing that research and making a recommendation or they're putting together a business case, they may be a more junior level person. So they really want as much detail as possible before they present, at least their top a few vendors to selected. We're just realists are in that and just want to support folks finding the right tool for them.

Mike: So, JD, you've been a great guest. It's been really interesting. We normally ask a couple of sort of quickfire questions. So I'm gonna dive into it. Now as we come to the end of the interview. The first question is, what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Jodi: Oh, I know that I don't know if I ever recall a particular piece of marketing advice. But I definitely remember one of my early early sales counterparts, he had this phrase that he would say about sales, which I actually think applies very much to marketing, b2b marketing. And that is you eat what you kill. And I think that idea that you benefit from the revenue that you drive is very important for marketers to ingest and live by, it's both important for from a career security and career advancement perspective, but also from the perspective of accessing resources internally, right, commanding the attention of folks that you need to command attention, getting alignment, and getting support. In many ways. I agree with my CFO, that revenue solves all problems, right. And so it needs to be the number one focus of your marketing organisation. It's not simply a demand gen function, it is the responsibility of everyone in marketing period. So I guess that's what I would say is just keep that in mind. That's what someone told me about sales. And, boy, it's not just sales, it's marketing to

Mike: I love that, that's great. Another thing I'm interested in, a lot of things are happening at the moment in marketing, click with AI coming in and disrupting. What if somebody asked you, you know, that at the start of the career, whether they should go into market or not, what would be your advice?

Jodi: I'm not sure it's related to AI. But I absolutely think marketing is oftentimes the unsung hero there. It's the good news. Bad news is that we have the ability to impact so much in a business culture, internal marketing, and sort of the perspective the alliance that your employees have with the company, etc. It's it's incredibly powerful. But I think that what I often tell folks on my team, it's a personal mission of mine to get everyone aligned to this. And also, if when I have the opportunity to mentor young younger folks, is that it is it is absolutely critical to invest in your own business acumen. I think it's becoming now a more standard than not that businesses expect that the leaders in marketing will be business people first marketer second. And I think that is a transition that has been happening over the last few years. And now what's absolutely key in order to going back to what I said, earn your seat at the table or earn that seat at the strategic table that the table of the executives and the board etc, is to really understand how every single ounce of your effort is driving business impact and being able to actually speak in terms that those folks that are in those rooms understand which is ultimately about financial statements and in dollars, dollars and costs. I think that is you know, not necessarily something that you get in college to it typically, but definitely through mentorship, definitely through the LinkedIn learning and other sorts of ways to educate yourself exposure etc. I think that's something that is absolutely critical. And no matter what role you take in marketing, that that is where you want to be where you're not simply a cost centre With the way that we were 10 years ago, or 15 years ago, whatever it was, but you're really a strategic partner at the strategic table, and the only way to earn that seat and the only way to really belong there is to make sure that you're speaking the language of business, which is ultimately in terms of business outcomes and dollars and cents.

Mike: That's, I think, really insightful advice. I've so enjoyed this conversation, you've been very generous and kind with all the information you've shared. Is there anything else you feel we should have covered or anything else you wanted to talk about?

Jodi: I guess the only thing that comes to mind, Mike is I'm lucky enough to talk to a lot of prospects and customers and because we sell to marketers, I'm, I'm lucky enough to talk to a lot of other marketing leaders, marketing and sales leaders. And typically what comes up these days is what's working now there's been so many changes a lot of businesses are experiencing, you know, not to sound morbid, but depression in in things that are core like site traffic leads generated business, a lot of folks are experiencing churn problems, and they've never really had that before, or marketing hasn't really focused on retention or expansion motions. And so one thing that often comes up is, you know, what's working today, what's changed? How are you succeeding in spite of the environment. And what I hear over and over again, if I could just, you know, share this one tidbit, it's fresh off the press, not even really research, but more insights from the field is that people are really laser focused on really understanding in market signals at the person and the account level. The idea here is that there are fewer buyers in market, but fewer doesn't mean zero. So as long as you can be laser focused on identifying those buyers that are the right fit for your organisation and acting upon them in a relevant way. You're gonna set yourself up for success, you're gonna set yourself up for success today, but also in the future when maybe there's more abundance and fewer buyers becomes once again, many buyers. So there's a lot of ways to do that data, of course, is your friend RollWoks does offer five distinct buying signals. And so a lot of times when I talk to our customers or, you know, transparently, they're talking to me about of those different signals. But regardless of whether your role works customer or not, I still think it's a relevant piece of advice is, is, you know, there's a lot of different ways that you could spend your energy but with fewer resources, getting laser focused on those accounts, and people that are the right fit for your organisation are showing that they're actually looking to make a purchase decision sometime in the near future is going to absolutely pay you back in spades.

Mike: That's fantastic advice. I think, you know, focus is always so important. But I think that that insight about focusing on people in market, something a lot of people are talking about. I really love that idea. Yeah. So JD, it's been a great conversation. I really appreciate your time. If people have questions or just want to learn more about RollWoks where's the best place to get ahold of you?

Jodi: I mean, you can always find me on LinkedIn. You can also find me just through email. My email address is is J. Sarah Tani at roll works.com. So you can you can find me there as well. If you'd like to email me directly. I'm happy to have a chat. I always find that there's a lot of quote unquote thought leaders out there, I definitely do not consider myself a thought leader. I'm more of a practitioner and I love to talk to other practitioners and get the real stories about what's happening and share, you know, a few tips and tricks that I've been learning as as as someone facing the same challenge as everyone else. So feel free to reach out.

Mike: That's, that's very kind of give me your email address out. I really appreciate it. God has been a great conversation. Thank you so much for being on the show.

Jodi: Yeah, thank you so much for having me. It's been a real pleasure.


Social Media Examiner - Agency Growth Through Strategic Acquisitions

Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier, recently sat down with Social Media Examiner for a conversation about how strategic acquisitions can help agencies grow.

Find out how to scale your marketing agency.

Listen to the interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYRlgo7zFIE


A Napier Podcast Interview with Mario Blandini - iXsystems

In the latest interview of our leading B2B marketing professionals’ series, Mario Blandini, VP of Marketing at iXsystems, an open-source software storage company, sat down with Mike to discuss his career, how he came to work in the data storage industry and his top marketing tips.

Mario discusses how open-source companies work and the benefits this can result in for both the customers and the business. He shares the campaigns he is most proud of and some advice on how companies can attract young marketing talent.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About iXsystems  

iX is an Open Source pioneer and the company behind TrueNAS®, the world’s most deployed storage software. Relied upon by millions in over 200 countries, TrueNAS is an award-winning universal data platform used by a majority of Fortune 500 companies.

Time Stamps

[00:45.06] – Mario explains how he ended up as VP of Marketing at iXsystems.

[08:34.0] – The right time to move from propriety storage to open source.

[11:43.0] – What is open source?

[18:07.0] – How do you promote something that will drive no immediate revenue?

[22:42.0] – Mario shares the campaign eh is most proud of.

[28:09.0] – What is the best piece of marketing advice you’ve been given?

[31:53.0] – Ways to get in touch and find out more.

Follow Mario:

Mario Blandini on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mblandini/

iXsystems website: https://www.ixsystems.com/

iXsystems on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/company/ixsystems/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Mario Blandini - iXsystems

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Mario Blandini

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

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I've got Mario Blandini, who's the VP of Marketing at storage company iXsystems. Welcome to the podcast, Mario.

Mario: Hey, thanks for having me, sir.

Mike: So Mario, I mean, you're actually a bit like me, you started your career, technically, as an engineer. John, tell me a little bit about you know, why you chose to be an engineer, and then maybe move on to why you moved from being an IT engineer to being a marketer.

Mario: All right, I have a pretty interesting story, working class background, my father was in the Vietnam War in the Navy. And he told me that I was such a slob, idiot and loser that I would make it not even one day in the Navy. So instead, I joined the Marine Corps serve six years, and I had a special job fixing Honeywell DPS six mini computers from the late 60s. So I got to touch all of the oldest technology. And it's really helped me because I have a view of technology, how we stored things from core memory storage, all the way up to today's cloud storage, where it's a ethereal, where is it? Nobody knows. But it doesn't matter because you have access to it. So I'd say I became an engineer, and I realised I just couldn't code faster or automate faster than my, my colleagues. And so believing my voice probably being my superpower, I just naturally gravitated toward explaining how technology works. Rather than building the technology.

Mike: I'd love to talk to me a little bit about, you know, some of the highlights of your career. So where you worked, perhaps as an engineer, and then then how you moved into marketing and, you know, some of the companies you've enjoyed working with, because you've got a great history.

Mario: Okay, cool. i One might argue that it has too many stops along the way. But some of them were long. Okay, so I'll let me try to do a rapid fire thing, I went from being a Marine to a tech support person at Toshiba, troubleshooting upper memory block issues. And this is getting all geeky it so think, early 90s, IT support and then I went from that to working for a payroll company as a systems engineer, because I wanted to be on the customer facing side, I got a job working in automation, and testing for Adaptec, which, at one time was the number one semiconductor maker for all storage applications. So I got to start at a huge company was able to show me what a big company operates like, because if you've only seen a small company, big ones, and small ones are different. And it's not that you can't be successful in both. But just understanding how they work. It was really, if you say my past was varied, I think that was one of the blessings, I got a chance to work for enough big companies to understand how that works. Fast forward. From there, I became a sc again, for a storage service provider, the first wave of the.com Bust where the thought was build an Amazon s3 Like service, and everybody will use it. Well, much like web van, which if you ever saw there, they I live in the San Francisco Bay area, a food delivery company two decades before its time. Now it's quite normal, that that's just what everybody has. So kind of a cool thing that didn't work. I've spent the last 10 years being a head of marketing, taking all that experience and doing it with either, you know, under 100 million dollar companies or startups.

Mike: That's great. You also had a passion projects in your history, your resolve networks. Tell me a bit about that.

Mario: All right, well, those of us of a certain age, they call it middle age, crisis, maybe it was that I, we had recently done some big moving my wife and I with our daughter going to college moved states, we wanted to just figure out, hey, if that first half was all about driving value for your employer, maybe the second half would be how do you do that and achieve some of your passions at the same time? So the thought process, believe it or not, was that there, I made a video game where you do good deeds in real life. And those earn coins that become cash that goes to a nonprofit. So for example, you volunteer for a nonprofit and you spend four hours, not only do they get your four hours of volunteering, they earn $15 per hour for the hours you did. And companies are ready to sponsor this right. I think my idea was, let's just say ahead of its time. I'm standing by to write a book actually, to give this idea away along what I've learned here at my most recent stop here at iEX. My second open source company, maybe my maybe my opportunity just to give it away and be a podcast guest going forward to sharing what I've learned. But I think it's a cool project because the same things we do in targeted marketing, as B2B enterprise marketers, if nonprofit had that same ability to do it. Think of the impact they can make? Because we all know like in marketing, heck, if you're batting 300 sales seven times, but when three times, you're still going to the All Star game, right? Nonprofits are batting 5% 3%. And if they just operated like a modern marketing organisation and philosophy, imagine how measured outcomes would be understood, tested, and you'd work toward achieving it versus right now, a lot of that industry is just stuck in the 20th century.

Mike: That's great. That's so inspiring. And actually, I love the idea of you talking about giving away the idea because, of course, you work for a company based on open source software. So very crudely, you've got a product that you then proceed to give away. I mean, talk to me about how that works.

Mario: All right, cool. So there is a great video by Dan Pink on motivation. Look it up. It's very famous. He talks through several examples of purpose in a company. In fact, that's how to be more relevant to this discussion of being an open source company, because you're have that unfair superpower of having a genuinely higher purpose. Because your first motive isn't profit. So that's, that's a very, very cool thing. But in the video, he talks about how 20 years ago, if he would have went to his professor and said, I got this great idea, we're gonna get a bunch of smart people, and I'm paraphrasing, they're going to take their very limited discretionary time doing work that's more complicated than the work they do for a living. And we're gonna give it away for free. Economists would have just said that was the most idiotic thing. In modern times. Data is it's conclusive that an open source model eventually, along gardeners parlance is where marketplaces go, when the plateau of productivity no longer can sustain the margins, where the big guys find that it's a worthwhile business. And it's not to say that the stuffs not valuable, but storage is such a commodity now, do you care? As long as it works? Awesome, and cost the right price? Does anybody really care? I think that's where it's gonna, where I'm specifically going to do it. But it applies to all companies in terms of your purpose, hey, capitalism is cool. I've been in all capitalistic companies too. And you can still have the same ideology, even though you may not have that business model, because you can use as an analogy, customer success as the higher purpose, right. And so I have already given tidbits of knowledge when I'd give away to other people for free. That's one of those things we as technology buyers, or technology, marketers don't leverage enough because everybody's trying to say the same things and everybody's greenwash and all that actually, you're probably different least one or two ways, lean on those and, and make that part of your customer success.

Mike: I love that. So, I mean, talk to me a bit about this, this idea from Gartner that everything ultimately ends up No, I

Mario: said that. So I Gartner doesn't say that because it's just if the game being what it is, we love Gartner and where we are Gartner subscribers, that there's this concept of the hype cycle. And so I won't go through the details. But the plateau of productivity is the final stage. What happens when a technology is on a plateau of productivity and 20 years elapse? Does it stay on the plateau of productivity? Or is there this other phase that's not tracked by Gartner called the I no longer pay 70% margin for this, I pay a lower margin because it's a commodity and the commodity works. Awesome.

Mike: That's fascinating. So I mean, I've certainly worked as you know, as an engineer in the past and understand that storage was incredibly complicated now. And actually, as you say, storage become that commodity today that that people pretty much forget about. So you feel that today's you know, the right sort of time for people to move from expensive proprietary systems, which maybe make them feel a bit better, because they spend more money into open source systems that are going to be lower cost.

Mario: It's even easier than that. All I want them to do is just try it for free, spend an hour, try it for free for no other reason than continuing professional education as a means of just understanding what it can do. Because when you understand it can do all the same things, the one that cost more does, maybe you think about using the free one, the next time it comes up, or if free doesn't work, and you need the supported one with 24 by seven, expert support, then you buy our product. And that's how we fund our passion project. We sell these hardened appliances the same way they buy proprietary storage, except they're less expensive and have all the same features and characteristics. So it's one of those things where we get an opportunity to say yeah, we have to pay for one but we don't want to talk to you about that. First. Try it because if you don't like that you're not going to like to pay for one and how many people can allow you to try the full featured product for free anytime you want. And then use it forever for free, never asking for a penny. It's a different position by which I'm marketing. I'm not trying to get them to decide to do something, I'm simply asking them to understand that there is a choice, and that it's worth investing the time to understand what that choice can mean, on their ways of doing it. And face it, we humans are creatures of habit. And we say these technologies swerve. I mean, you probably us old guys will remember this, they said mainframes would be dead. In the past, more, more profit. And revenue has been made on mainframe computers today than in the history of the world just turns out, it's a small segment of the overall one. It's not the mainframes fault, the market drew around it with all these new things. And so to kind of bring that full circle, a lot of technologies, at least for the right, why it's the right time now, the right time, is that I think people understand how this pays you go pay only for what you want to use, they're able to do that with lots of other things. And they'd say, You know what, I wish everything worked that way, right. And while it can't yet work that way, in storage until the next generation, let's just say, you can start making choices like open source ones, which are already compatible with the new way. And that's what we're trying to say is it just hey, if we can't give you a reason to try it, then then we're not doing the right job. But I'm, I don't have to sell anything, I just have to get people interested enough to try it. And for all you guys if you know an IT person out in your personal life, ask them if they've ever tried true NAS T ru e n a s, and if they haven't, they're gonna thank you that you pointed them to it. Because it is the world's most use Storage operating system just is more of an on the planet than anything else. It's just because we don't make money off of it. We're not as big as the competition.

Mike: I love that little advert in there. That's fantastic. I just want to go back to this. Try it for free, because I'm sure some people listening. That may not be technical. They're marketers. They've heard of open source? I mean, can you just explain exactly what this is? Does this mean that the software that you're selling in your systems, people can go and download for free from the internet?

Mario: Yes. So imagine, we're like a software that you could touch a button and put on your phone, right, so that software works there, we also can sell you a phone that's perfect for running that app, this software can run as a container as a virtual machine, as you name it, right? You can instal it just about anywhere, with about the same ease as just clicking out as a couple more clicks, but just click download, you've got it. And then you can start using it. Naturally, the horsepower of your phone would be much different than if you were running that app on a supercomputer. So the idea is, while that's good for lots of things, if you needed a more demanding use case, well, you need to need to put it on higher powered hardware, which you're free to do we have lots of universities that pay us nothing yet store petabytes of information and be able to put the money that they used to spend on storage back into research, which then allows them to buy more storage to do more research to buy more storage and do more research, you see how that it goes on there. It's really where open source has taken off in academia, as you might imagine, it's always been there, we really want commercial companies to see the same thing. Now, if you're not an open source company, I think you can still run this same play because I've done it in a proprietary company, as well as in a quasi open source VC funded company. In both cases, the solution was complicated enough that no one would ever buy it without seeing it work. It's just one of those things. It's like you would never buy a car sight unseen without taking a test drive, people are starting to do that. But generally speaking, get off your butt and drive five minutes away, you can do a test drive, right, and make sure you like it, we make that test drive process infinitely easier and assessable. So you could anything you can do in my past I've made I would I couldn't do a free software download, I held a daily office hours with our customer guru, right kind of like a nerd bar or whatever they call that a geek squad or whatever, you're one of those. And that served as the people who come ask things for free, it was just about helping people be successful, a venue for other customers to ask other customers, we're gonna be able to create a bunch of content off of that and drive people to that as a means of engagement, warming them up toward when would be the right time to talk to somebody in sales. And that that works for any technical product, right? If you're seeing it as providing value with no expectation of anything in return other than you're just trying to help them be successful. This is now Customer Success one on one thing, so think of the things I'm doing as maybe even a more primitive version of what customer success is, regardless of industry. And if you have a software product that people can evaluate, even if they can't evaluate it 100% Create a demo that shows people it's basically a guided tour, have one of your technical people just do a guided tour video, you can drive people to that, as that experience that warms them up to get them qualified to be a lead.

Mike: That feels almost like you're taking the concept of content marketing giving away useful information. They should, and implementing it in the real world. I mean is is that basically what you're doing?

Mario: Well, they say that legislation, computers, everything we know today, we knew back in the mainframe world, we just have better kit, the same thing could be true, I think for marketing, content marketing having its heyday and still being obviously super big. I think now with the fact that we have a Twitter or x or whatever we should be calling it these days attention span, that there's this idea, you have to put the entire payload of all value proposition into 140 characters. And the reality is, you just want to give people a reason, the same way the the Internet giants are the most profitable and prosperous companies in the history of humanity. They're just giving people something they think they might want to look at at their height time, we as marketers should be doing the same thing. And not in the sense that we're just trying to sell sell their data, but for us to understand based on their behaviour, if and when the right time is to lead them to the next step. Because attention span is everything, I'll give you a stat in our company, we have a lot of things going for us because our community is so big, but with respect to doing direct email engagement to what we'd otherwise consider qualified personas with some lead score, we're able to put them on ultra long lead drips that don't work the first quarter don't work the second quarter. And the reason they don't is there's no project in the first quarter. And there's no project in the second quarter. People say, Oh, gosh, what have you done for me now. And my thought is unless you start really irrigating those long, lead drips, you're not capturing the ability to take the people closest to your gravitational pull and sucking a man right. And content is marketing is what it's all about. I am a content marketer, a product marketer by background before I was a marketing generalist. So content marketing, is it but I think it just like the like anybody, you're just, you're competing for eyeballs? And dang it isn't your competition, doing everything that you're doing, if not three times as loud and more annoying. Right? So how is it you just find them at the right time? And I'd say that yeah, there's, there's things you can do with content marketing, back to lead scoring? Because they were on they were on the verge at one point? How do you push them over the edge?

Mike: I think that's fascinating. It really reminds me of what LinkedIn is talking about, with their B2B Marketing Institute, where they were saying, you know, 5% of your customers are probably in market ready to buy, and 95% are not ready. So your marketing should think about that. 95%. And I think as marketers, often we're all too focused on the No, no, everyone should buy now just buy now, even if people are not ready.

Mario: Well, I mean, that's a lot just Don't hate the player hate the game, right? I think our incentive structures are usually in those organisations done that way. My my KPIs here, have a lot to do with how many new people we get to download the software, how many people we get to store more than a certain amount of data? So it's kind of fun that way.

Mike: I think it's interesting. I mean, actually, maybe one thing I want to ask you about is, you know, you're getting people to try the software that's inherently a low bar, because it's free. But how do you market to that? Because obviously, free is not immediate revenue. You talk about these long drips and multi quarter drips? I mean, how do you decide about your marketing budget to go out and promote something that you know is going to have zero immediate revenue?

Mario: Well, here's the cool thing is that, and we talked about this in the green room, when you work for an open source company that our company does more than $100 million of revenue, and we spend less than a million dollars in marketing. All in. Like all in employees, headcount services, everything is ultra lean, because simply by having what we call the machine, or what a marketer might call the mousetrap, our mousetrap is just to get people to try it. And then just over over time, they raised their hand, right. And what's cool is, for us, once they download the software, that software, their agreement, opps them into doing a lot of things where we touch them on a regular basis without seeing a lot of unsubscribes. And not seeing a lot of complaints, right, because people don't mind receiving something on the weekly if it's how to get more out of something that's free in providing value now, right? It's just ideas and other stories. So I think we have an unfair benefit there. We can probably do more frequency than anybody else. And that applies also to those less interested folks who are enterprise folks who timing is it very few people are doing research on what they're going to be implementing next year, right? It's like, what are we barely surviving this quarter and what's going to be assigned to us next quarter? And I think that's one of the reasons why the whole go to market has changed. What used to be face to face sales calls as a part of the 17 touch process has shown that you can get It deals done in 12 touches and no face to face, same deal, same everything B2B, all the complexity, the pandemic brought that on, but to us, it's like leaning in the favour of an open source company, because it's leaning in the way where the the most productive activities, the ones that don't cost money that would be outside the reach of us, because we just don't have budget to buy leads or pay for, you know, qualifying services, etc. Let me give you another idea, because I know we're probably running short on time on, I feel compelled to do this, because it's been a big win for me recently, this idea that if you are a global company, there's an opportunity in every department in a company to leverage qualified and high performance talent in the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, other areas too. But generally, it's this virtual assistant, the pandemic created the virtual assistant industry, where there are college educated, usually mothers who work the same work hours through the middle of the night as their client, and take care of their kids send him to school and sleep during the day. These people love working at iEX. And it's because they're doing things that cost us a lot less money, but they can do very valuable and offload the people who are already strained, who you're not getting to enough stuff, the only way you can add is really to figure out how to spend less on what you're currently doing. So you can add more stuff, right. And I'm I just found that this is something that worked. And I think it could work for anybody. Because there are virtual assistants waiting to just do whatever work you want them to do in marketing. There's plenty of busy work, like clean this list and append to this and fix you know that so it's it's been a cool boon for us. They're still employees, but they work in the Philippines, then we have an intern programme, then we have our regular marketing. So another way reason we can compete is that we can be headcount heavy while driving costs a little bit lower with a structure like that. But pay for profit companies can do the same, but they're trying to recapture spend spend on programmes.

Mike: Yeah, I think increasingly, we're seeing that with for profit companies, offshoring stuff, to places where you have very smart people who don't need as much salary as maybe they do in the States or in Europe,

Mario: and they've already worked for an American company and or some international global brand, and have already proven that they can be successful, you know, as a part of the team. And I think that's, there's a good supply of those right now. Demand for them is probably going up. But that's another tip for all marketers. And I think you guys provided Napier provide a lot of value as far as how to put those strategies together, though. Title, the I'm not a client.

Mike: You're right, we're running a little short time. So let's go to a bit of a more quick fire round of questions. So I'm interested to know, you know, whether it's iEX or somewhere else, is there a campaign you're particularly proud of that worked really well?

Mario: Sure. And it's that to incentivize or not to incentivize question, specific to appointment setting. I think in most B2B funnels, the marketing KPI is how many qualified meetings did the sales guys actually have, followed by how many of those continued on to the next stage in the funnel, that that is what we really focus on. And so a campaign that incentivizes to get there, the biggest issue you throw incentive on, you get a bunch of unqualified people, you can make keep it really targeted, but you may not be able to get much in the in the way of results. We found a recipe at a company I was a private yet $500 million company I was working for in the past, where I think we perfected this, which was a lot of people would do the Hey, well coffee's on me or lunch is on me, if you take a meeting. We did it where take this survey, and it was, you know, kind of your average survey thing just to get an idea of whether you could benefit from this. People do that? Guess what the answer was almost always, yes, you can benefit from that. And the idea was in that context, then go click because now the sales guy has a least a valid starting point for the meeting, because the customer can least articulate why they were interested. And they don't mind taking those meetings because they can become either Hey, contact me next quarter, or yeah, let's talk now. So the incentive was 25 bucks, and it was well worth it. Because ads for full conversion, we have to pay $1,500 per opportunity. And we were delivering opportunities at 100 bucks because the incentives was what 25 and the rest of it made for a very low cost appointment setting campaign that didn't involve people. It just got us a lot more people wanting to have qualified meetings.

Mike: Yeah, I think that's brilliant, because probably the people who are taking the survey are almost self qualifying themselves before they take the survey. You know, generally speaking, they've got an idea that probably it's worth meeting and so they'll take the survey. I love that. That's fantastic. Yeah,

Mario: well, you take the survey. And if they choose to move through with it, then at the end of that they get the 25 bucks. Which, which, which is this thing that we're not trying to fool you, we're just saying we can talk about this. And if you think it's valuable to you, then book it. And so that was that that was probably the one I'm most proud of. And I say that because the fruits of it, started to bear it, the trees blew up a year after I left the company. And today, I I'm very good friends with the same agency that's continuing to work with that company. And he's reported that it is they'd let it run like a chicken with its head cut off, it's still performing today, it's still the top lead source.

Mike: And I'm sure a lot of people listening, taking down notes on that and thinking, how can I do something similar? But I also know people want to know what goes wrong. So is there a is there a campaign you've run that, you know, you thought it was going to be great, but actually in reality didn't work? Why do you think that was?

Mario: Alright? It was a brand campaign, I was working for a company where it was quasi consumer high end consumer prosumer. And business business was profitable, the prosumer stuff less so unless you could do it at scale. So the thought was, you need to be reviewed by the number one product reviewer of Apple products, a editor for The New York Times, who then went on to Google, etc, we got into the New York Times, we invested more than 50% of the net effort for three quarters to make that happen. And in the end, it didn't make a sound. Really, it came out no perceptible difference in our demand gen metrics, except a bunch of people complaining on the internet about critical things he said. And then the competition, taking things and blowing out of proportion, and all that sort of stuff. So what you thought was your, you know, your use of video game analogy was the thing you grabbed, and you have now in your head about protection, it's the opposite, you grab it, and it kills you. So the moral of the story is, never put more than 10% of eggs into any one basket, or at least into the first phase of what someone wants you to put it into. Because your board, the community, your investors, everybody could ask you, Hey, you know, I want you to go do this. We're not going to be there until we have a Superbowl commercial, or until we are on the front page of The New York Times in a product review. Well, sometimes be careful what you ask for. Because, hey, who knows what works, what works? Now, it's not something that takes six months, it's what's something you can ideate prototype, test, launch, and iterate on inside of a week. Right? So put your energy there, you're gonna get a lot more engagement than what would be more like just that kind of checkbox. Okay, hey, we had this product review or review, it was a positive review to just didn't, just didn't didn't make a sound.

Mike: Yeah, that's fascinating, because I think I know you're talking about and every supplier has something to do with Apple wanted him to review it.

Mario: Why not? Who doesn't want free publicity? Right? I'm just saying that free publicity that which was so desired, was not desirable by our target audience.

Mike: Amazing. So, in terms of market advice, you've given a load of advices, loads of great information, but I'm interested, what's the best bit of market advice you've ever received?

Mario: It's really simple. When's the best time to plant a tree? Yesterday in the past, right? The best time and this is something I have with my team. And I think it works especially well in marketing is that you ask for help. On the earliest signs that there's a probability you may ask for help in the future. I don't know if I said that the right way, which is this idea is that if I only would have just waited, I F around for five hours on this one, I literally could have done this and it would have been done. choose that path, right? Ask for help and or give it to somebody else rather than pouring your energy into it. Because right now, time is our currency as marketers, we are one of the only organisations where there is an infinite number of things to do, because everybody has an opinion on what needs to be done in marketing, because we're all consumers, therefore we all have an opinion, you'll never do everything that's in the queue. Right? The only thing you can hope to do is prioritise. And so for me, that's a part of the prioritisation exercise is by at least having names for things and knowing what it is you're gonna invest the time on. If you just find you're investing your time too much on one thing, that's your signal to say, Can I hand it to an intern? Can I hand it to someone in the Philippines? Can I hire somebody who is the integrated marketing manager and makes the whole team better by you know, just having the things run smoothly through the machine? Right? I think it's really more my advice is be on the lookout diligently on the lookout for signs that you probably wish you would have asked a question sooner.

Mike: I think that's brilliant. We see that I the way you've expressed it, you know, I can see that particularly in more junior people coming into the company, and they want to try and prove themselves And they want to do something and they just spend day grinding on something that they could have asked the question and got it solved in minutes. And I love that advice. Think it's brilliant.

Mario: Yeah. But we need to do it for ourselves. Can we catch ourselves doing that? Right? I think that's one of the things it takes a village. And we believe that obviously, it's an open source company. But in days where marketing teams are being really cut down, and we're going toward models where it's in multiple different agencies and stitching them together, it's ever more important to really then understand how you assign workload and divide labour and do all of those sorts of things. And I think that that's where I wear an agile company. I don't know if I mentioned that last bit of advice, who would have thought that the company would do a backflip when marketing suggested, hey, we're already using JIRA for Project product management in or for managing projects in engineering, why don't we just use the same thing in marketing, guess what, now there are no extra apps, we don't have an HR app or this app or that app. So marketing, actually, through our advanced knowledge of tools can help make impressions across the rest of the organisation to bring them more agile. So that's another bit of advice is that young people do not want to work in an organisation that is not yet agile, because everybody's asking for those skills. And so if you already have JIRA, in the, in your environment, get off of monday.com, or Basecamp, or whatever you're using there, because we free to you. And you'll actually do things with a higher level of quality, because you'll follow more, a more scientific repeatable process of making sure things are QA, et cetera, et cetera. Thanks for inviting me today. As you can see, I'm a fountain of information. And I do enjoy sharing with others. Just make sure you ask questions, right. I think being humbled to ask questions is really the biggest takeaway, that to answer your question, because preventing guilt or regret in the future, means being more aware in the present.

Mike: I love that I'm in the spirit of asking questions, I guess, you know, one of the things I'm thinking is people are listening to this, they probably got a whole bunch of questions for you. What's the best way to get ahold of you?

Mario: All right, I would suggest that if you wanted to go to Toon as.com, just go into the live chat and say, Hey, Mario, like, believe it or not, the VP of marketing does actually look at the live chat. Right? Cool. I probably see you there. If not, somebody on the team is gonna say, hey, Mario is not here. And then we can get that way. Or you can email me at M Blandini. At IX, systems.com, or gmail.com. Turns out there's not very many M bland genies in the world. And otherwise, yeah, if you're like any of the ideas that I've talked about, what I'd say is one of the easiest ways to to get it get into a cohort group of people who are like minded like you meetups in the back in the day, were the great thing. And then it kind of went virtual, we forgot about that. Just having a couple of people in different industries to commiserate with is really, really cool. So even if I can't answer the question, I'm not saying anything wildly inventive. You could probably go and network with your local group of meetup folks, and and build some relationships that way. Because the reality is companies I found this at my company to being 20 years old. You don't know what's going on on the outside, because you've only been in this side for so long. So as marketers we kind of get to specialised, I know that there's some people who have a market where it's literally every customer is known I had this in the telecom industry. Well, it still doesn't mean that you can't go and build for them a company reason to do it. Right. So that's my other bit of advice. Heck, ask your boss whether or not you can brag a little bit more about what your company does, because odds are you do it in a less humble, less authentic way, when you probably could just state something that's absolutely true about your company and find some power in that. Anyway, hit me up on the live chatter and Blandini@gmail.com and Blandini at IXsystems.com.

Mike: So scenario, it's been such a great pleasure talking to you. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. Yeah, my pleasure.

Mario: Hey, y'all, and best of luck.

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.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Jim Kraus - Buyer Persona Institute

Personas based on buying data and research can have a huge impact on both marketing and sales, allowing informed decisions to be made based on the needs of customers.

Jim Kraus, President of the Buyer Persona Institute, shares why building personas based on buying decisions and understanding the needs of prospective buyers is so important. He discusses some of the things to consider when building personas and some tips on how to get started.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Buyer Persona Institute

Buyer Persona Institute offers B2B companies’ insight into what their prospective customers need to know and experience before they buy products or services. The institute delivers buying decision insights and persona activation workshops to more than 100 customers across the globe.

 About Jim

With over three decades of experience managing market research teams, Jim has become a highly sought-after expert on the intersection of marketing, sales, and product strategy. As the President of Buyer Persona, Jim is passionate about understanding buyer behaviours and implementing marketing efforts that understand the "voice of the buyer."

Time Stamps

[00:49.06] – Jim provides an overview of Buyer Persona and how he got involved.

[05:00.9] – How do you build a buyer persona? – Jim offers his advice.

[10:45.0] – How should you leverage buyer personas?

[15:20.3] – Mistakes to avoid when developing buyer personas.

[22:01.7] – What is the best piece of marketing advice you’ve been given?

[23:13.4] – Would you recommend a career in marketing?

[26:21.9] – Ways to get in touch and find out more.

Quotes

“You’re not guessing, it’s not anecdotal. That is really the foundation of your marketing sales strategy, your messaging, your positioning, campaigns that you do. It’s pretty powerful when you have those insights.” Jim Kraus, President at Buyer Persona

Follow Farzad:

Jim Kraus on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jimkraus/

Buyer Persona Institute website: https://buyerpersona.com/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Jim Kraus - Buyer Persona Institute

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Jim Kraus

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by Jim Kraus. Jim is the president of the Buyer Persona Institute. Welcome to the podcast, Jim.

Jim: Thanks, Mike. Great to be here.

Mike: It's great to have you on. And so I'm sure a lot of our listeners will be familiar with the buyer persona Institute. But you know, what we always like to do is find out how people got to where they are today. So can you tell us a little bit about your career journey? And what brought you to being the president of the Institute?

Jim: Sure. So I've been doing market research for well over two decades and market research has always just been a passion of mine just really trying to understand customers and buyers and markets to help organisations make smarter, smarter business and marketing decisions. So my career has spanned both doing market research on the client side for different organisations, mid very large enterprise companies, as well as on you know, now the supplier side, you know, helping clients with their market research needs. So this Buyer Persona Institute my focus there has really a kind of a natural culmination in my career up until this point.

Mike: And how did you get involved with a buyer persona Institute.

Jim: So Barbara stone Institute was founded about it was about 15 years ago, Adele Rivella founded buyer persona Institute, and some of your listeners, I'm sure have heard and maybe even know Adele, and her and I have known each other for years, just crossing similar circles as far as where our focus has been. And back in was end of 2021, she was really interested in retiring at that point. And her and her I got the talking. And it just made a lot of sense for the firm, the research firm I had been working for, to partner with Buyer Persona Institute and kind of carry on what she had started. So that's how we've been involved within it. And I've been leading Buyer Persona Institute for over a year now. So it's, it's been fantastic.

Mike: That's great. I think, you know, what will be interesting is obviously, some of our listeners will know what you do at the institute. Other people won't know what Buyer Persona Institute is. So do you want to just, you know, unpack what you do?

Jim: Yeah, so you know, traditionally, a lot of folks think about buyer personas, and typically they'll think of it being a profile of an individual or a role in the buying decision, which is fine. And we can get into a little bit more of that later. But Buyer Persona Institute is really focused on understanding buying decisions, more specifically, understanding everything that prospective buyers want to know and experience to have full confidence in making a particular investment and making that investment with you. So it's about developing buying insights around a specific buying decision, rather than just understanding profiling characteristics of a role and decision process. And that's a really key distinction and a pretty important one, in terms of getting value out of buyer personas.

Mike: So that's really interesting. You're talking about personas being specific for a particular situation. So can you just explain a little bit more, you know why you can't create generic personas for individuals in business and then use them across a wide range of different suppliers?

Jim: Yeah, so if your buyer personas are focused on just profiling your particular role, so let's say let's just take a technology product randomly. Let's just take CRM, for example. And if your organisation sells CRM, if you identify the CIO or an IT, buyer is one of the key influencers in that buying decision, certainly not the only one. But let's say and you have a profile of that, of that it buyer and you know, their average age, their education, maybe even their overall challenges and priorities and information sources they use. Certainly that's helpful from a marketing and sales standpoint, to know that information. But it really doesn't tell you anything about what are the things that are really driving the need for that CRM solution. It doesn't tell you what are the fears and concerns they have about that purchase? It doesn't tell you how customers are defining success. It doesn't tell you what are the key decision criteria they're using. It doesn't tell you anything about their buyers journey. So it only gives you really limited information. And what ends up happening is you you really have to guess or make educated guesses about what is it that buyers really need that for that particular buying decision. So that that's why we take this buying decision focus.

Mike: So I mean, who the industry is actually a little bit more than just the persona. It's really understanding that that process of buying a particular product, or helping people understand how their customers buy their product.

Jim: Correct, yeah. So the approach that that we that we advocate, and you'll see a lot of information that we put out on social channels and on our website is just to try to educate folks about, you know, the different components of a buyer persona. So mate, let me explain that, because I think that'll probably crystallise the thought a little bit more. So, for a buyer persona, the way we recommend doing them is to actually go out and talk to recent buyers of the particular product or service that you offer. In other words, you know, go out and find people that have made the exact same buying decision that you're trying to influence. And these aren't necessarily your own customers, these are folks you want to talk to that you ideally would want in your sales pipeline, right, that have actually made that decision, have gone through this process, and go out and interview them. The interviews that we typically do are 30 to 40 minutes. They're like a journalist, really, really a journalistic approach, right? We're not asking them, we're not giving them ratings and rankings and ask them to pontificate. We're actually having discussions with them, where they literally tell us everything that happened from the moment they had a need for a particular product or service, all the way until the point where they make a final decision. And we take a approach where we literally identify how they first come up with an initial consideration list, how do they winnow down their choices?

So we do these interviews. And what we do is we look across the interviews that we do we find patterns in the data. And the buyer persona that that you develop from these is there's five key areas, we call them the five rings of buying insight. The first one is priority initiatives and priority initiatives are literally what are buyers telling you? Is the trigger to happen so that they are looking for your particular product service at this moment in time. So they may have had a particular challenge for a while what is it that's getting them going out? The second key characteristic or element of your buyer persona, should be what we call success factors. And these are literally the outcomes or the benefits that buyers need to realise to feel justified in the investment that they're actually make. The third one is a really important one that can be overlooked. Sometimes we call perceived barriers. And these are the fears and concerns that buyers have. Right. So when you're talking about a higher consideration buying decision. Typically a lot of B2B buying decisions are there's going to be some fears and trepidations that buyers are going to have no question about it right? This could be a significant investment for them. There's going to be impacts on the organisation positive or negative, depending if you make that quote unquote, right choice. They may even be career implications depending on how big of a buying decision it is. You certainly want to know what all those trepidations are ahead of time because it's going to inform a lot in terms of your marketing and sale. The fourth element is decision criteria and decision criteria is all the questions that buyers are going to be asking of you as they evaluate their alternatives. And again, we're calling all these insights from actually doing interviews with recent buyers. And they will tell us, you know, here are the all the things that we use to evaluate different providers and solutions and winnowing down our choices and coming up with our final selection. And then the fifth and final one that should be part of your persona is buyers journey. And the key here is understanding what are the steps in the buying process for this specific buying decision? Who are the key influencers? And who's making the final decisions? What information sources are they using? And we all know buying decision is is that is the exact same we know that.

But by doing a number of these interviews, you can really identify some key moments in the buying and who's involved in what types of information sources that they use and trust. Now, if you step back for a minute, and you think about those five key areas, imagine if you're in a marketing and sales role, and you have fact based insights in each one of those areas, you're not making it up, you're not guessing it's not anecdotal. That is really the foundation of your marketing and sales strategy, your messaging your positioning campaigns that you do, it's pretty powerful when you have that those kinds of insights.

Mike: That's fascinating. Sounds like you've got this really robust process you've developed that allows you to get in depth information about the people buying products. I mean, is this something that you need to do and provide as a service or is it something people can learn?

Jim: Either way, so we we do studies for different organisations all the time, but it's also something you can do do yourself as well. So we actually do offer a masterclass that will teach you kind of the ins and outs and how to do this on your own both identifying who to interview, how to interview them how to do the analysis and put putting together your personas. The biggest challenge is finding recent buyers right so we're not looking for customer lists. These are typically blind studies like so when we do the studies for organisations we don't Don't tell the people that we interview who the sponsor the research is, and vice versa. But it's really important that you define the buying decision very specifically, you define who your target is very specifically, you know, if it's a certain industry or enterprise size, or geo or some other criteria, and then working with different recruiters to identify who those recent buyers are. So that's, that might be the hardest part of the process, just finding them. But it is certainly something that you can, you can do on your own as well.

Mike: So I mean, that gives people flexibility. I mean, I guess, you know, we've touched on it earlier about, it's an involved so it's quite often a B2B sale, but who should use personas on how can they best use them?

Jim: Yeah, so really, buyer personas as we just defined them, can be used for any moderate to high consideration buying decision, whether it's consumer, or its business. So as an example, this approach works wonderfully for if you're trying to do a buyer persona for people that are trying to figure out where do I want to go on vacation, certainly, that's a high consideration, type of buying decision, right, you may be looking at different places to go, you may be looking at different places you can stay where you go, you may be looking for certain activities, or things that you want to be doing, where you go on vacation. Again, it's anything that is not just spur of the moment, type buying decision, whether it's business or consumer, can work really well, in terms of how to use them, right. So once you have your buyer persona, you know, the things that we most often see our clients how they use them is, it's amazing how, how creative they are really, because it really is the foundation of the house, as far as all decisions are going to be making from a marketing and sales perspective. But the ones that typically get the most use out of them are, they either start with new messaging or refresh the current messaging that they have. This includes, you know, top of the funnel type stuff, where you're just trying to figure out how to initially attract and, you know, become relevant to buyers. Also, it's refreshing messaging, middle and bottom of funnel when they're really starting to get into their buying journey. And they're really looking at their different options. And the beauty of the buyer, the buyer personas is they will help you in both in both areas. The other place that we see buyer personas used quite often is for different sales plays, like one of the things that you can do with your buyer personas is identify top four or five, six value proposition themes, right things that you know, buyers are going to want need during their buying journey. And by using those and really developing proof points about how you can deliver on some of these things that they want. It's gold for the salespeople, who a lot of times their biggest challenge when they're meeting with a new prospective buyer is, you know, what should I talk to them about right? And obviously, you want to talk about their needs, right? But having an idea about what their needs are like the art had a story to tell, works wonderfully in sales loves it, because you're giving them a real starting point with and really meat meat on the bone to go in and have those conversations.

Mike: Yeah, I love that example of sales. I think sometimes people sort of look at buyer personas and feel that it's adding complexity to the planning process. But But it sounds like what you're saying is, you know, when you understand the needs, it can massively simplify the decisions you need to make to create a good either marketing or sales campaign.

Jim: Yeah, no, it's a great point, one of the most common people that we work with, right, so we have people come to us with in different situations. One of the common situations is somebody will come to us in our organisation with their hands in the air because they have 510 15, we've had organisations come to us with 50 personas, because they have a broad portfolio, and they've got a persona for every person to decision process. And they just don't know what to do, it becomes such a matrix and so complex, they also don't have the resources to market to each one of those individually, oftentimes. And the beauty of those conversations we usually have a smile on our face is because what we're proposing here simplifies everything because now you're not trying to be so tailored to every single person in that buying decision. You are now tailoring what you're doing to the actual buying decision itself. So that the buying committee and as likely a buying committee involved in these decisions, you know, you're coming with an understanding of what collectively they all really need. And again, remember, like if you think about if you're a CIO, you may have a whole list of priorities and challenges. But don't kid yourself when it comes to a specific buying decision using a CRM example below. There's some very specific things that that CIO and that buying committee are going to need that they're going to be worried about, that they're going to be using to evaluate their different options. So it simplifies it simplifies everything and it and it really improves the focus that you can have which is particularly in today's environment with You know, with scarce resources, a lot of times focus and prioritisation is is gold, right?

Mike: Yeah, definitely. I mean, you know, it sounds like you're saying one of the big mistakes people make with developing personas as they develop too many. Are there other mistakes you see people making when I tried to do persona work? I wouldn't say so

Jim: much mistakes, I would say more of just a lot of it's just kind of knowing about other options that may be available. So that's one of them. Right? That, you know, we talk a lot about the buying decision versus role based persona. So that's one one miss out was a mistake. But that's one thing you can definitely it's a game changer. You know, I will say that. The other thing I would say is not being afraid to talk to recent buyers. You know, marketing a lot of times is you know, they're charged with trying to educate and influence buyers around a particular buying decision. But they're trying to do it with one hand tied behind their back, because a lot of times they don't have the luxury of talking to recent buyers, right sales folks talk to prospective buyers all the time. Just think about all the knowledge, they're learning that innate knowledge they're learning that really influences how they communicate, and speak with prospective buyers. A lot of times marketers don't have that. So by going out and talking to recent buyers, you know, now you've got the answer sheet, right? Like some of our clients call the buyer, buyer personas, cheat sheets, because it's literally everything that you need to know to be able to use your marketing talents in the best possible way. So that's the other thing I would really recommend is don't be shy about talking to recent buyers. I mean, they have they have all the answers for all the things that you're gonna be doing.

Mike: I mean, I think sometimes talking to recent buyers can be hard, particularly when companies quite often go through a persona, right? So because they're not being as successful. So you mentioned about recruiting recent buyers, is there any advice or information you can give people to help them, you know, be able to go and find those recent buyers and approach them properly?

Jim: Yeah, so a couple of things. One is if you have an interest in doing it yourself, we'd encourage you to look at the master class, or the book buyer personas that Adele had published a number of years ago, which gets into some of the methodology type stuff. So those are a couple of sources you can definitely go to outside of that. One of the things is, we typically kick off a buyer persona study with a, we call it a study design. It's an outward meeting, and we get all the key stakeholders in the room from marketing sales product. And we spend a lot of time just defining what the buying decision is that that you're really trying to understand. So as an example, just going back to that CRM example, to be consistent, it may not just be a CRM for your particular organisation, it may be CRM, but just because of your product and services or your focus, it may be CRM, but it has to include certain components of CRM, because you feel like your ideal customer profile, your ICP, there's certain things about their needs around CRM, or their requirements, that you really want to make sure those the buyers you go talk to. So you wanted to find that really specifically, any other specifications, like we talked about earlier, like, you know, II size, geo industry, other things. And then you want to develop a screening questionnaire that you qualify people in or out. And then you want to use some, some recruiters to help you. So there are different recruiters that the only thing they do is help find people based on certain specifications. So you can partner with those organisations as well to help you find those people.

Mike: I mean, it certainly sounds like one of the things people need to do as well is to take the time and really spend the time developing a very good and detailed buyer persona. I mean, do you think there's value in in generating more superficial personas? Or is it you know, really the case that the return on the investment on doing the work is so great, you should be doing all the work.

Jim: It's really a decision. I mean, if you do, if you do a more of a profile of an individual or role in the buying decision, you know, that's something that you can probably do for less resource, you're just not going to get nearly as much value out of it, it's going to leave, you know, leaving fundamental questions to the marketing and sales team. So, you know, what we have found is using this buying decision based approach, it leads to an increase in not just leads qualified leads, because you've got folks that are more likely to find you, because the stuff that you're putting out there is tailored to the people that you're really looking to attract. The other thing that we see is conversion rates go up. But the main reason for that is because now you have such a deep understanding about their fears, concerns and decision criteria in particular, that what you're putting out there and what you're communicating is really going to influence the buying decision when they're further along in the process. Right. So, again, it's a choice. You know, the buying decision, one takes a little bit more resource to do, but the payoff is is you know, we would argue that it's worth it when we have organised Asians that anytime they have a new product or service, or there's a significant change in the marketplace, they'll go refresh their buyer persona to make sure that they're fully aligned to their prospective buyers.

Mike: Yeah, and certainly, I'm sure a lot of your clients, they're actually talking about very high price tag sales. So you don't need to do much on the conversion rate to make a huge difference in terms of return on investment. Yeah, 100%. I mean, this has been great. I've loved the overview about the process and how to create really good personas. It just likes to go back in and talk about the ESG for a second, and it's a question I feel I've got to ask is maybe not fair. But the buyer persona process is part of the marketing process, basically, do you think there's really is a need for a separate Institute or a separate organisation? And if there is, why do you think it's, you know, it adds so much to be separate and be very focused on what you do?

Jim: Yeah, we do. And the reason for that is because it's fundamentally it's about understanding prospective buyers and a buying decision. Right. So one of the things we're trying to do is not muddy the waters, right? There's all different types of research that you could do, right? There's positioning studies, segmentation studies, customer sat studies, Product Development Studies, and on and on and on, one of the things we wanted to make sure of is to be very focused on buyer personas, because it's a very specific types of in buying insights, that you're trying to get to overlay very specific types of marketing and sales decisions and motions that you're putting. So we have it separate for that reason. So there's no ambiguity about it as far as what the value is. And that's the main reason that we've done that.

Mike: Sounds like a great reason. I mean, obviously, you've obviously got a lot of experience, we'd like to ask some more general questions. And one of the questions we really like to ask people is about marketing advice. I'd love to know, what's the best bit of market advice you've ever had? Jim?

Jim: Certainly, I would say the one that is on my mind every single day is how to, I would say twofold. One is understand your buyers and your customers as much as you possibly can. And never, never let that end like continue to refresh your understanding, walk in their shoes, recognise that it's not about your product or service. It's about their needs. Right. And the second thing related to that, which is the advice is always be asking yourself, How can you be helpful to the folks that you are marketing and selling to, right, because, quite frankly, they're not interested, they don't really care if they're working with you, and they don't really care about your potential product or service, what they care about is their own needs, their own problems, their own opportunities and things that they're trying to achieve. So be helpful to them as that is the main thing and everything else will work out itself, right? Because they're going to see that you actually care about their results, they're going to feel confident that when you start giving them advice, or suggestions that it's credible, because it's coming from the right place. So that's something that I literally say to myself every single day still, and that would be the probably the best advice I've ever gotten from a marketing standpoint.

Mike: That's great. And really clear. I mean, you know, if you help your customers by the more later by I mean, that's, that's a great approach. The other thing we like to ask people is about advice, career advice for young people maybe thinking of coming into marketing. I mean, would you recommend marketing as a career for young people, but I mean, particularly considering the marketing as a whole has kind of been thrown up in the air with AI, and we're not quite sure where it's gonna land?

Jim: I would I mean, you know, I think it's such a fascinating place to be because at the end of the day, you know, business is all about people and individuals. And one of the things I love about buyer personas is, you know, you talk about B2B, large enterprise technology, for example. And it seems like this big, you know, impersonal type of thing, but the reality is, it's people that are making these decisions and people that have real, you know, real trepidations, real ambitions, and I'm saying that in a good way, both for themselves in their organisation. So, from a marketing perspective, I just think it's fascinating because you're always learning things, markets are always changing. And at the end of the day, there's always going to be a need for organisations to bond and align themselves with their prospective buyers and develop relationships that's never going to end. Regardless of what tools are out there. It's fun to learn about them. I've been doing this for a while, and I still, you know, the the AI I think is fascinating. We're already thinking about how we may potentially be able to use that enhance what we're doing. So I think it's it's a, it's a field that's constantly changing, but the fundamentals about what you're trying to do and connect with buyers doesn't change. And that kind of mixture is something that I think is pretty attractive and keep keeps things pretty interesting as you go.

Mike: I love that sort of optimistic view of the future of the industry that that's That's a great note to end on, I think. I mean, it feels like we've we've kind of only really scratched the surface. But is there anything major you think I've missed? Or you think I should have covered?

Jim: I don't think so. I mean, I think the two big takeaways for me is I always try to leave people with with, you know, two thoughts, and we've covered them, but one is, go talk to buyers there, they'll be happy to talk to you, they this is something that they're not pontificating about, it's something that they went through, that meant a lot to them, and they've got some really insightful things to share. So you'll actually enjoy those conversations. So don't be afraid of them, actually, you know, look forward to them. And then two is, if you're, if you've been frustrated with buyer personas before, or you don't know much about them, think about the approaches that we talked about today they are there really are can be a game changers. And the nice thing about them, we have found is using this approach is is very pragmatic and logical. So buying in the organisation tends to once people get it, they're like, Oh, that makes a lot of that makes a lot of sense. You know, why haven't we been doing this? So that's the other thing I would encourage folks to do.

Mike: Perfect. No, I mean, a great thing to leave people with. I mean, I'm sure there's some listeners who want to find out more either about the Institute has a hold on, maybe ask you questions to follow up. I mean, what's the best way to learn about the Institute and maybe get hold of you, if somebody's got a specific question,

Jim: feel free to visit our website, buyer persona.com. There's a number of resources there, that'll just expand on some of the things that we talked about today. Please leverage them to the fullest. And then also feel free to find me on LinkedIn, Jim Kraus. I'd love to connect with you there. And you can contact me there or through our website, there's a contact field there as well, if you'd like if you'd like to connect with us.

Mike: Fantastic. I mean, Jim, this has been fascinating, you know, I feel really motivated to for our next project really go deeper in terms of understanding what buyers care about during the buying process. So I really appreciate that. It's been very motivating for me. Great. Thanks, Mike. I really enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for being on the podcast, Jim. 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.


Can AI Really Support Content Generation?

Everywhere you look, everything is about AI. But how can AI actually support content generation? In this special episode of the podcast, Napier’s Mike Maynard and Hannah Kelly discuss the capabilities of AI in marketing automation platforms. They also chat about how email signatures can be leveraged by marketers, what to consider when writing subject lines and how companies can grow their subscriber database.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Time Stamps

[01:03.0] – Will AI make our lives easier?

[04:44.0] – Can we use AI and generative AI to optimise campaigns?

[10:33.0] – Email signatures – how can marketers maximise their impact.

[12:51.0] – The challenges of growing subscriber databases whilst complying with GDPR.

[17:39.0] – How to write a good subject line.

Quotes

“Do you just want to be average in your marketing automation? Or do you want to create something that is above average? People who are above average will do better than AI.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

“AI can be a great start but if you think it’s going to replace you, unfortunately the good news is you’re job safe, the bad news is you’ve still got to do some work.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

Follow Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-kelly-b0706a107/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in marketing automation and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast – Marketing B2B Technology: https://marketingb2btech.napierb2b.com/

Transcript

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast. I'm Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard. This is Napier's podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketinging automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast.

Mike: Today we talk about AI. And that's probably enough to get most of you listening. But I promise if you do listen to the podcast, there'll be lots more as well, including things like how to write a great subject line.

Hannah: So welcome back. Mike, you just got back from another trip in the US. How was it?

Mike: It was great. Actually, I'm feeling a little bit jet lagged. But really keen to have another chat about marketinging automation. Well,

Hannah: I appreciate you making the time. I've got a lot to talk UVU about. So I'm really excited to just dive straight in. I mean, the first thing that I've seen is actually having a scroll through Actos website earlier this week. And it's no surprise that a lot of content is about AI. Everywhere you look, everything's about AI. But I think one thing that's really interesting, which I'd like to dive into is, how can AI actually support content generation within marketinging automation platforms? So how effective is it for emails, landing pages? Will it make people's lives easier? Or are they going down a path that perhaps isn't right to get that high quality content they need?

Mike: I love that question. Hana. I mean, I think it's really interesting. The truth is, you know, speaking as an engineer, it's actually really easy to integrate something like chat GPT into a product today. And so because chat GPT is the hottest thing on the planet, apparently, I think most of the marketing automation companies are looking at going this is an easy one, we've just got to do it. So they're all integrating generative AI. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. But I think, you know, firstly, we've got to look at this, you know, people are saying, well, we want generative AI to create personal emails for everybody in my database. Actually, they're not even using basic marketinging, automation, personalization tools. So, you know, for people to suddenly think that personalization is the greatest thing, because they've been really lazy. And now it feels a bit easier. That's probably not the right way to go. Personalization is important. But maybe AI is not the right thing to use. So I think it's gonna be interesting. But I think the thing you've got to remember is that AI and I'm sure I've said this to you before, a number of times, it tries to predict the most likely next word, I mean, that's fundamentally how generative AI works. And so what it's trying to do is be average. So the question is, do you just want to be average in your marketinging automation? Or do you want to generate something's above average, so if you're really good, generative AI might be great for ideas and giving you a start, but actually, it's not going to remove the work of really polishing that email, or really getting that landing page, right? Because people are above average, will actually do better than AI.

Hannah: I love that so much above average. And I think when it comes to B2B as well, having this technical content that we have to write is even more important that yes, you can use this API to draft the first kind of landing page or the first email, but you still need those experts to put that input and put their insight to make it this high quality piece of content.

Mike: You're so right. I mean, it's another great point, you know, generative AI is, is what really geeky people like me call a stochastic process is based on probability. And it's been trained on history. So if you're writing a landing page about something that's a completely new, innovative product, why should AI which is trying to predict words based upon what was said, in the past, generate a great landing page, if you've got a product that's very similar to lots of other products, maybe AI is going to generate a pretty decent landing page. But I think, where we're looking at promoting new technologies and new products, that's where AI is really going to start to struggle. So again, it does come back to the fact that, you know, I don't think it's a bad thing to use it. But I think it's a bad thing to trust it. 100% I think, really, you know, what people need to be doing is using AI. I mean, the classic thing is, you know, if you've got writer's block, you're sat there thinking, I have no idea what to write, then AI can be a great start. But if you think it's going to replace you, unfortunately, you know, the good news is your job safe. The bad news is you still got to do some work.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I guess just extend on that a little bit. Mike Lee, looking at this AI and this generative AI, how can we use it to optimise campaigns, is it something that we should be using more for optimising campaigns or when we're actually trying to break out 20 marketings a new client is a new product, where would you think it fits best?

Mike: So now I feel a bit geeky, because generative AI is the AI that creates content, whereas other AI technologies and machine learning will actually learn from what you've done. And then try and optimise. So you know, what's generative AI might produce, in theory, a good set of copy, what you need is different sorts of AI that are going to measure how well your campaign has been received. And look at how changes can impact the performance. Now the problem is, is what's going to happen is the people going to run AI across previous campaigns, and then try and use those previous campaigns to dictate how to optimise the new campaign. If you're running lots of similar campaigns, happy days, that's going to work. But if you're running something very new, or targeting a new audience, there may be what worked before isn't necessarily optimum for today. So again, I think AI is fascinating. It's something that that's definitely going to help in optimization. And let's be honest, you know, most of us are doing things like running, you know, Google Pay per click campaigns, whether it's search with display, we're already using AI to optimise it, we're quite happily buying into the Google AI world. So we're gonna use it. But I think sometimes the marketinging automation need to take a step back and say, Actually, I'm doing something new. And maybe I need to take a new approach a different approach, rather than replicate exactly what I've done when I was talking to a different audience about a different product.

Hannah: I love that mindset. Mike, I think it's definitely something to consider. And I think it's something that industry will learn, because you'll soon see if the results aren't the same for a similar campaign as they are for new campaigns.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, you're right, you know, if you just let AI run, it'll optimise some campaigns brilliantly, other campaigns, not so much. And I think, again, AI is going to be a tool AI is not the solution. And I think if you look at what happens with technology, technology very rarely replaces complete functions, what technology does, it replaces processes, and little aspects. And my view is, is that where we see this magic marketinging AI that comes in and does all your marketinging for you, you just go run marketinging campaign, I'll see you on Friday. And it all runs, I don't think that's going to be the way I actually you know, has an impact, what I personally think is AI is going to be everywhere, some of the time, you're not even really going to see it. And it will be all over the place in all of the different martech tools, doing little optimizations or creating content suggestions, or, you know, even maybe generating some of the content. And I think it's just going to be embedded everywhere. And that's where it's gonna get really exciting, because you're just gonna get that AI to do a little bit here a little bit here a little bit here, suddenly, you've saved yourself, maybe 50% 75% of the time to run a campaign. But you're still in there, you're still doing that direction, and where it's appropriate, you're still providing that kind of subjective judgement.

Hannah: Absolutely, I think it leads back into a nice point of the next thing I want to talk about. And that is around events. And we know as marketingers that perhaps the companies that we work with, and our prospects, and our clients aren't always the best utilising marketing automation when it comes to events. But as you said, AI is going to be embedded into systems now is going to be there when you don't even notice it. And I think this is going to be one of the key areas that we actually see time saved, where it can be the most efficient is building these event follow ups these fantastic to beat you. webinar follow up webinar registration emails, I think they're I see the real value from the marketinging perspective, or where AI to make a real difference very quickly, within the marketinging teams.

Mike: Yeah, and obviously, you know, you know about this, because you do all the follow up for napery webinars. So, you know, you have this problem of creating these follow up emails, and typically, they follow us fairly standard kind of format. And I think, you know, that's where AI is really going to come into its own, you know, the thank you for attending, here's a replay, we don't need to type that email, again, you know, an average email is going to be good enough for that. So I completely agree with you, Hannah. I think AI is going to have an impact in this event follow up. And hopefully, it's going to mean that people have, you know, more personalised and more thoughtful follow up, because they're not spending all the time on kind of the mechanical basics that you have to do after an event.

Hannah: I think the key thing there, Mike is thoughtful, because marketingers can sometimes be let down where they're rushing, they're just doing these bland kind of mass emails. But we know that personalization makes a difference. And if you can utilise tools to make that difference, and especially I think events have come back. I mean, I was on a meeting on Monday, and we were talking about how we couldn't believe the attendance at the events, you know, B2B or UK across the globe. And I think as the world kind of still goes down that events route, it's just going to be amazing to see the kind of follow up that comes from being able to utilise these tools, and then also them channelling investment from these events because they've been able to do this real personalised outreach was not a lot of effort.

Mike: Yeah, I think you're right. And I mean, if we look at what's happening, there's real evidence people want human to human contact, they want to see people's personality. It's something that's talked a lot about in B2B. And you get that trade shows, you get to meet people, you get to fill their personalities. And I think that's, you know, another reason whilst AI can come in, and it can make a massive difference for our job day to day, it's probably not gonna replace us at least hopefully, it's not replaced. So fingers crossed. So I mean, I know we can speak about AI for a good another 20 minutes, Mike, but I do want to steer us into a slightly different direction. And that is email signatures. And this is something that we've not yet discussed on the podcast. And it's something that I really believe is overlooked. I mean, at Napier, I spent a lot of time working with our IT engineer to build personalised signatures based on the accounts, people work on our case studies, our awards, and HubSpot actually released a blog recently that said that 77.8% of users check their email inbox more than five times a day. And so actually, email signatures can be such a fantastic way to improve brand awareness. What's your opinion on them?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I love the way HubSpot went in and said people check email, therefore, signatures are important. I mean, that kind of was a bit of a jump there. But having said that, you're absolutely right, when you do use email signatures, then absolutely, you can get some really good value. And I've seen clients use automated email signatures for all sorts of things. That Classic is, when you're nominated for award to get people to vote, and the clients that do that get great response. So it's really clear these people checking emails five times a day, actually read to the bottom of the email, and they actually do look at signatures. And the great thing about a signature is if you're interacting with someone on a frequent basis, maybe they don't notice the signature the first time they get an email from you. But when they're getting emails, you know, maybe once a day, twice a day, whatever. Suddenly that signature starts having impacts, it keeps getting repeated. So I'm a massive believer. And as you know, we've got technology and API's that will put in dynamic signatures based upon who's sending the email and, as you say, you know, for example, the accounts they're working on. So it makes a huge difference. And I think it's sometimes a bit unsexy, in a bit underrated in terms of a marketinging tactic. And a lot more B2B companies could actually think about what they put in the signatures, and they could think about changing the signatures, for example, depending upon who they're sending to, or who's sending the email that then lets those signatures feel, you know, really customised and personal.

Hannah: I love this mic. I think it's the first time we've wholeheartedly agreed on something.

Mike: Well, it's nice for there to be a first time I'm sure we've got another story so we can return to normal.

Hannah: So thanks for that insight, like I mean, slightly moving on back into more than marketing automation platforms. And I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts around ways that companies can not only maintain, but also grow a subscriber list of in their databases. And I think there are challenges here with GDPR compliance if you require opt in. So what kinds of things can companies do to overcome this?

Mike: Etc. Interesting, I think the first thing to say is that GDPR is important to understand what the rules say. And in B2B, obviously, with some exceptions, you actually don't need explicit opt in. But a lot of companies choose to go that way. And that is not a bad thing. So they're actually choosing to focus on quality rather than quantity. And clearly, for growing a list, as you said, opting in or requiring someone to opt in, is actually going to make it harder to grow the list. But on the other side, that quality is going to be better. So you know, it's something you need to decide. And we have clients who take both they take the legitimate interest approach, and they take the opt in approach. And I think once you've decided that, that then defines a lot about what you do in terms of growing that list. And you.

Hannah: Absolutely, and I think there are ways that if you do this opt in way that you can still do incentives to encourage people to opt in. So we could do things like popups, you could do things such as all make sure you do tick this box and have a chance to get a discount on one of the products. I think there's more creative out of the box ways that you don't have to be limited to get those people to opt in.

Mike: I totally agree. I mean, one of our best tactics for a client is when people choose not to opt in, we just pop up in Marketingo on the landing page, a little box that just says Are you really sure you don't opt in? And I think, you know, one of the dangers is is that now it's almost a default to say, I don't want to opt in. But actually when people think about it, they go, Oh, actually, I quite like the supplier. They could give me some useful information. Maybe I do want to opt in. So I think that there's lots of things you can do to think about getting people to fill that form in getting them to opt in if you've got an opt in process. And then also, we're thinking about retaining those people on the database and making sure you send them good quality content, so they don't opt out.

Hannah: That's such a good point, the growing is as important as it is maintaining, and you have to engage your contacts in your database. And you have to provide that high quality content, prove that they've made the right decision.

Mike: Exactly. And I think, you know, again, this is this is something that's really interesting, because, you know, some clients will gather more data than others. And the more data you can gather about the people that you're mailing, the more personalised that content can be. And so you know, even me in my my day to day marketinging life, I get emails, you know, telling me about events all around the world, it's like, I'm not based in America, you know, a trip to San Francisco is quite a big deal for someone from Europe. And I really don't care about this event, because I know you're running an equivalent one in London. And that's much closer to me. But clearly, the person who's captured my name hasn't captured the country I'm based in so they're sending me information on everything. So that gathering and that enhancing of the information. That's a really important thing that relates to retention, because the more you can understand your database, the better you can personalise, and therefore the more likely people are to feel that the emails I get are relevant, useful, and not emails they want to opt out from.

Hannah: Absolutely, and it's quite easy to do, because performance within all moto automation platforms have the capability to do progressive profiling. So it's really easy to gather that information, it doesn't have to be a difficult task.

Mike: You're so right when I mean progressive profiling is marked information superpower. But, you know, I think most people use to some extent, but often is underrated. And clearly, what you want to do is you want to try and keep gathering more and more information, not because you know, you're some kind of, you know, freaky obsessive collector of data, or wanting to go in and spam people, but because you want to actually send more relevant content. And the other thing to remember is, you don't actually just need to use forms to do that, you can actually use behaviour. So look at what people are clicking on, if you've got a recipient that only clicks on content that relates to events in the UK, at some point, you're going to hope that sensible marketingers are going to say, I'm gonna make a guess this person lives in the UK, and I'm just gonna send them content around events in the UK. And then you'll reap benefits because you'll get much more engagement, your emails will be much more effective. And also people are much less likely to opt out.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I love that it's the marketing automation superpower. That's the only way I'm going to describe it moving forward. So I'm just conscious of time, Mike. So I do want to move on to our insightful Tip of the Week. And this week, I really wanted to talk about subject lines. Now subject lines are so important within emails, and within ebooks, within ADS, everything like that. But if we focus in on emails, how do you think different subject lines make a difference in engagement rate? And what are some of the best subject lines that have made you open an email?

Mike: I love this question. Because there's, there's so much focus on the minor things. And so little focus on the things that really matter. So you'll read endless studies that have analysed you know, the optimum number of characters in the subject line, or, you know, people talking about you should use title case rather than sentence case. So you have a few more capitals to make people open. And the truth is these, these make a difference. But the difference is really tiny. What really matters is something people care about. And I think the interesting thing is, subject lines are important, but from addresses are very, very important too. And I mean, I've had emails where I know I open it, because it's the from address, it's got nothing to do with the subject line. I mean, do you see the same thing?

Hannah: Yes. What a brilliant point. Yeah, the from email is so important. Because if it's just from a standard marketinging app named your B2B dot com, you know, it's not personalised, you know, no one's made any effort for you. But if you have that real person behind the email, it makes such a difference.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, you know, I give a shout. I just remember one email recently, that really, I think gets a lot of white people open emails. And it was for an organisation called Zen pilots in pilot are a company that helps agencies optimise their processes. So for me, it's really relevant. And in fact, it's so relevant, that I actually downloaded one of their tools. And the tool was amazing. It was really good. So, you know, immediately I was engaged. Everything was sent by a guy called Jeff Cypher. I believe that's his real name, but it's a very memorable name. So he's a lucky guy there. And then the next time the email comes in, I'm already thinking about the tool I've used on process definition. And I'm thinking this guy's got great fun Hmm, last time I opened an email, it was brilliant. I want to open the next email. And then I can't remember he sent me through a worksheet or something that again, was, was really thoughtful. It's a really good tool. And then he sent me through a couple of personalised kind of offers to try and move me down that funnel. And I think lots of things were at play there, the subject lines, they weren't that great. I mean, they kind of refer to what what he said before, but you know, they weren't particularly innovative or creative or, and as I remember, they weren't even titled case of a sentence case. So you know, they weren't going to optimise like mad on the subject line. But because of that history, and that interaction I had, I open the email. And so I think, yes, we can look at subject lines, and we can optimise them, and you can read the MailChimp or whoever's report on, you know, this is a way to structure structure subject lines. But actually, what you've got to do is build trust. If you build trust and engagement, people will open your email. And you can pretty much get away with any subject line. If you've got that trust and engagement.

Hannah: That's some brilliant insight. Like I absolutely love that. It's about trust. It's about the content. Yes, you can do all these optimizations. But if your core content piece isn't delivering the value, then it's not going to make a difference. Anyway.

Mike: That's beautifully summarised. You've summarised about half an hour of my waffling in two sentences.

Hannah: Well, thank you so much for your time today, Mike. It's been another fantastic conversation.

Mike: Thanks so much, Hannah. And hopefully we'll have everybody else listening to the next episode of The Marketinging Automation Moment.

Thanks for listening to the Marketinging Automation Moment podcast.

Mike: Don't forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we'll see you next time.


Crossover Episode - Can AI Really Support Content Generation?

Everywhere you look, everything is about AI. But how can AI actually support content generation? In this special episode of the podcast, Napier’s Mike Maynard and Hannah Kelly discuss the capabilities of AI in marketing automation platforms. They also chat about how email signatures can be leveraged by marketers, what to consider when writing subject lines and how companies can grow their subscriber database.

Check out this crossover episode with Napier’s sister podcast, The Marketing Automation Moment, sharing the latest news, views and tips from the world of marketing automation.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Time Stamps

[01:03.0] – Will AI make our lives easier?

[04:44.0] – Can we use AI and generative AI to optimise campaigns?

[10:33.0] – Email signatures – how can marketers maximise their impact.

[12:51.0] – The challenges of growing subscriber databases whilst complying with GDPR.

[17:39.0] – How to write a good subject line.

Quotes

“Do you just want to be average in your marketing automation? Or do you want to create something that is above average? People who are above average will do better than AI.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

“AI can be a great start but if you think it’s going to replace you, unfortunately the good news is you’re job safe, the bad news is you’ve still got to do some work.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

Follow Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/hannah-kelly-b0706a107/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Kelly

Mike: Welcome to marketinging B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Because it's summer and I'm away on my holidays. This week we've got a special episode from our sister podcast, the Marketinging Automation Moment. So if you as a marketinger use marketinging automation tools of any sort, take a listen to this podcast. Maybe it's something you want to subscribe to in the future.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast. I'm Hannah Kelly.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard. This is Napier's podcast to tell you about the latest news from the world of marketinging automation.

Hannah: Welcome to the Marketing Automation Moment Podcast.

Mike: Today we talk about AI. And that's probably enough to get most of you listening. But I promise if you do listen to the podcast, there'll be lots more as well, including things like how to write a great subject line.

Hannah: So welcome back. Mike, you just got back from another trip in the US. How was it?

Mike: It was great. Actually, I'm feeling a little bit jet lagged. But really keen to have another chat about marketinging automation. Well,

Hannah: I appreciate you making the time. I've got a lot to talk UVU about. So I'm really excited to just dive straight in. I mean, the first thing that I've seen is actually having a scroll through Actos website earlier this week. And it's no surprise that a lot of content is about AI. Everywhere you look, everything's about AI. But I think one thing that's really interesting, which I'd like to dive into is, how can AI actually support content generation within marketinging automation platforms? So how effective is it for emails, landing pages? Will it make people's lives easier? Or are they going down a path that perhaps isn't right to get that high quality content they need?

Mike: I love that question. Hana. I mean, I think it's really interesting. The truth is, you know, speaking as an engineer, it's actually really easy to integrate something like chat GPT into a product today. And so because chat GPT is the hottest thing on the planet, apparently, I think most of the marketing automation companies are looking at going this is an easy one, we've just got to do it. So they're all integrating generative AI. Now, that's not necessarily a bad thing. But I think, you know, firstly, we've got to look at this, you know, people are saying, well, we want generative AI to create personal emails for everybody in my database. Actually, they're not even using basic marketinging, automation, personalization tools. So, you know, for people to suddenly think that personalization is the greatest thing, because they've been really lazy. And now it feels a bit easier. That's probably not the right way to go. Personalization is important. But maybe AI is not the right thing to use. So I think it's gonna be interesting. But I think the thing you've got to remember is that AI and I'm sure I've said this to you before, a number of times, it tries to predict the most likely next word, I mean, that's fundamentally how generative AI works. And so what it's trying to do is be average. So the question is, do you just want to be average in your marketinging automation? Or do you want to generate something's above average, so if you're really good, generative AI might be great for ideas and giving you a start, but actually, it's not going to remove the work of really polishing that email, or really getting that landing page, right? Because people are above average, will actually do better than AI.

Hannah: I love that so much above average. And I think when it comes to B2B as well, having this technical content that we have to write is even more important that yes, you can use this API to draft the first kind of landing page or the first email, but you still need those experts to put that input and put their insight to make it this high quality piece of content.

Mike: You're so right. I mean, it's another great point, you know, generative AI is, is what really geeky people like me call a stochastic process is based on probability. And it's been trained on history. So if you're writing a landing page about something that's a completely new, innovative product, why should AI which is trying to predict words based upon what was said, in the past, generate a great landing page, if you've got a product that's very similar to lots of other products, maybe AI is going to generate a pretty decent landing page. But I think, where we're looking at promoting new technologies and new products, that's where AI is really going to start to struggle. So again, it does come back to the fact that, you know, I don't think it's a bad thing to use it. But I think it's a bad thing to trust it. 100% I think, really, you know, what people need to be doing is using AI. I mean, the classic thing is, you know, if you've got writer's block, you're sat there thinking, I have no idea what to write, then AI can be a great start. But if you think it's going to replace you, unfortunately, you know, the good news is your job safe. The bad news is you still got to do some work.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I guess just extend on that a little bit. Mike Lee, looking at this AI and this generative AI, how can we use it to optimise campaigns, is it something that we should be using more for optimising campaigns or when we're actually trying to break out 20 marketings a new client is a new product, where would you think it fits best?

Mike: So now I feel a bit geeky, because generative AI is the AI that creates content, whereas other AI technologies and machine learning will actually learn from what you've done. And then try and optimise. So you know, what's generative AI might produce, in theory, a good set of copy, what you need is different sorts of AI that are going to measure how well your campaign has been received. And look at how changes can impact the performance. Now the problem is, is what's going to happen is the people going to run AI across previous campaigns, and then try and use those previous campaigns to dictate how to optimise the new campaign. If you're running lots of similar campaigns, happy days, that's going to work. But if you're running something very new, or targeting a new audience, there may be what worked before isn't necessarily optimum for today. So again, I think AI is fascinating. It's something that that's definitely going to help in optimization. And let's be honest, you know, most of us are doing things like running, you know, Google Pay per click campaigns, whether it's search with display, we're already using AI to optimise it, we're quite happily buying into the Google AI world. So we're gonna use it. But I think sometimes the marketinging automation need to take a step back and say, Actually, I'm doing something new. And maybe I need to take a new approach a different approach, rather than replicate exactly what I've done when I was talking to a different audience about a different product.

Hannah: I love that mindset. Mike, I think it's definitely something to consider. And I think it's something that industry will learn, because you'll soon see if the results aren't the same for a similar campaign as they are for new campaigns.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, you're right, you know, if you just let AI run, it'll optimise some campaigns brilliantly, other campaigns, not so much. And I think, again, AI is going to be a tool AI is not the solution. And I think if you look at what happens with technology, technology very rarely replaces complete functions, what technology does, it replaces processes, and little aspects. And my view is, is that where we see this magic marketinging AI that comes in and does all your marketinging for you, you just go run marketinging campaign, I'll see you on Friday. And it all runs, I don't think that's going to be the way I actually you know, has an impact, what I personally think is AI is going to be everywhere, some of the time, you're not even really going to see it. And it will be all over the place in all of the different martech tools, doing little optimizations or creating content suggestions, or, you know, even maybe generating some of the content. And I think it's just going to be embedded everywhere. And that's where it's gonna get really exciting, because you're just gonna get that AI to do a little bit here a little bit here a little bit here, suddenly, you've saved yourself, maybe 50% 75% of the time to run a campaign. But you're still in there, you're still doing that direction, and where it's appropriate, you're still providing that kind of subjective judgement.

Hannah: Absolutely, I think it leads back into a nice point of the next thing I want to talk about. And that is around events. And we know as marketingers that perhaps the companies that we work with, and our prospects, and our clients aren't always the best utilising marketing automation when it comes to events. But as you said, AI is going to be embedded into systems now is going to be there when you don't even notice it. And I think this is going to be one of the key areas that we actually see time saved, where it can be the most efficient is building these event follow ups these fantastic to beat you. webinar follow up webinar registration emails, I think they're I see the real value from the marketinging perspective, or where AI to make a real difference very quickly, within the marketinging teams.

Mike: Yeah, and obviously, you know, you know about this, because you do all the follow up for napery webinars. So, you know, you have this problem of creating these follow up emails, and typically, they follow us fairly standard kind of format. And I think, you know, that's where AI is really going to come into its own, you know, the thank you for attending, here's a replay, we don't need to type that email, again, you know, an average email is going to be good enough for that. So I completely agree with you, Hannah. I think AI is going to have an impact in this event follow up. And hopefully, it's going to mean that people have, you know, more personalised and more thoughtful follow up, because they're not spending all the time on kind of the mechanical basics that you have to do after an event.

Hannah: I think the key thing there, Mike is thoughtful, because marketingers can sometimes be let down where they're rushing, they're just doing these bland kind of mass emails. But we know that personalization makes a difference. And if you can utilise tools to make that difference, and especially I think events have come back. I mean, I was on a meeting on Monday, and we were talking about how we couldn't believe the attendance at the events, you know, B2B or UK across the globe. And I think as the world kind of still goes down that events route, it's just going to be amazing to see the kind of follow up that comes from being able to utilise these tools, and then also them channelling investment from these events because they've been able to do this real personalised outreach was not a lot of effort.

Mike: Yeah, I think you're right. And I mean, if we look at what's happening, there's real evidence people want human to human contact, they want to see people's personality. It's something that's talked a lot about in B2B. And you get that trade shows, you get to meet people, you get to fill their personalities. And I think that's, you know, another reason whilst AI can come in, and it can make a massive difference for our job day to day, it's probably not gonna replace us at least hopefully, it's not replaced. So fingers crossed. So I mean, I know we can speak about AI for a good another 20 minutes, Mike, but I do want to steer us into a slightly different direction. And that is email signatures. And this is something that we've not yet discussed on the podcast. And it's something that I really believe is overlooked. I mean, at Napier, I spent a lot of time working with our IT engineer to build personalised signatures based on the accounts, people work on our case studies, our awards, and HubSpot actually released a blog recently that said that 77.8% of users check their email inbox more than five times a day. And so actually, email signatures can be such a fantastic way to improve brand awareness. What's your opinion on them?

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I love the way HubSpot went in and said people check email, therefore, signatures are important. I mean, that kind of was a bit of a jump there. But having said that, you're absolutely right, when you do use email signatures, then absolutely, you can get some really good value. And I've seen clients use automated email signatures for all sorts of things. That Classic is, when you're nominated for award to get people to vote, and the clients that do that get great response. So it's really clear these people checking emails five times a day, actually read to the bottom of the email, and they actually do look at signatures. And the great thing about a signature is if you're interacting with someone on a frequent basis, maybe they don't notice the signature the first time they get an email from you. But when they're getting emails, you know, maybe once a day, twice a day, whatever. Suddenly that signature starts having impacts, it keeps getting repeated. So I'm a massive believer. And as you know, we've got technology and API's that will put in dynamic signatures based upon who's sending the email and, as you say, you know, for example, the accounts they're working on. So it makes a huge difference. And I think it's sometimes a bit unsexy, in a bit underrated in terms of a marketinging tactic. And a lot more B2B companies could actually think about what they put in the signatures, and they could think about changing the signatures, for example, depending upon who they're sending to, or who's sending the email that then lets those signatures feel, you know, really customised and personal.

Hannah: I love this mic. I think it's the first time we've wholeheartedly agreed on something.

Mike: Well, it's nice for there to be a first time I'm sure we've got another story so we can return to normal.

Hannah: So thanks for that insight, like I mean, slightly moving on back into more than marketing automation platforms. And I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts around ways that companies can not only maintain, but also grow a subscriber list of in their databases. And I think there are challenges here with GDPR compliance if you require opt in. So what kinds of things can companies do to overcome this?

Mike: Etc. Interesting, I think the first thing to say is that GDPR is important to understand what the rules say. And in B2B, obviously, with some exceptions, you actually don't need explicit opt in. But a lot of companies choose to go that way. And that is not a bad thing. So they're actually choosing to focus on quality rather than quantity. And clearly, for growing a list, as you said, opting in or requiring someone to opt in, is actually going to make it harder to grow the list. But on the other side, that quality is going to be better. So you know, it's something you need to decide. And we have clients who take both they take the legitimate interest approach, and they take the opt in approach. And I think once you've decided that, that then defines a lot about what you do in terms of growing that list. And you.

Hannah: Absolutely, and I think there are ways that if you do this opt in way that you can still do incentives to encourage people to opt in. So we could do things like popups, you could do things such as all make sure you do tick this box and have a chance to get a discount on one of the products. I think there's more creative out of the box ways that you don't have to be limited to get those people to opt in.

Mike: I totally agree. I mean, one of our best tactics for a client is when people choose not to opt in, we just pop up in Marketingo on the landing page, a little box that just says Are you really sure you don't opt in? And I think, you know, one of the dangers is is that now it's almost a default to say, I don't want to opt in. But actually when people think about it, they go, Oh, actually, I quite like the supplier. They could give me some useful information. Maybe I do want to opt in. So I think that there's lots of things you can do to think about getting people to fill that form in getting them to opt in if you've got an opt in process. And then also, we're thinking about retaining those people on the database and making sure you send them good quality content, so they don't opt out.

Hannah: That's such a good point, the growing is as important as it is maintaining, and you have to engage your contacts in your database. And you have to provide that high quality content, prove that they've made the right decision.

Mike: Exactly. And I think, you know, again, this is this is something that's really interesting, because, you know, some clients will gather more data than others. And the more data you can gather about the people that you're mailing, the more personalised that content can be. And so you know, even me in my my day to day marketinging life, I get emails, you know, telling me about events all around the world, it's like, I'm not based in America, you know, a trip to San Francisco is quite a big deal for someone from Europe. And I really don't care about this event, because I know you're running an equivalent one in London. And that's much closer to me. But clearly, the person who's captured my name hasn't captured the country I'm based in so they're sending me information on everything. So that gathering and that enhancing of the information. That's a really important thing that relates to retention, because the more you can understand your database, the better you can personalise, and therefore the more likely people are to feel that the emails I get are relevant, useful, and not emails they want to opt out from.

Hannah: Absolutely, and it's quite easy to do, because performance within all moto automation platforms have the capability to do progressive profiling. So it's really easy to gather that information, it doesn't have to be a difficult task.

Mike: You're so right when I mean progressive profiling is marked information superpower. But, you know, I think most people use to some extent, but often is underrated. And clearly, what you want to do is you want to try and keep gathering more and more information, not because you know, you're some kind of, you know, freaky obsessive collector of data, or wanting to go in and spam people, but because you want to actually send more relevant content. And the other thing to remember is, you don't actually just need to use forms to do that, you can actually use behaviour. So look at what people are clicking on, if you've got a recipient that only clicks on content that relates to events in the UK, at some point, you're going to hope that sensible marketingers are going to say, I'm gonna make a guess this person lives in the UK, and I'm just gonna send them content around events in the UK. And then you'll reap benefits because you'll get much more engagement, your emails will be much more effective. And also people are much less likely to opt out.

Hannah: Absolutely. And I love that it's the marketing automation superpower. That's the only way I'm going to describe it moving forward. So I'm just conscious of time, Mike. So I do want to move on to our insightful Tip of the Week. And this week, I really wanted to talk about subject lines. Now subject lines are so important within emails, and within ebooks, within ADS, everything like that. But if we focus in on emails, how do you think different subject lines make a difference in engagement rate? And what are some of the best subject lines that have made you open an email?

Mike: I love this question. Because there's, there's so much focus on the minor things. And so little focus on the things that really matter. So you'll read endless studies that have analysed you know, the optimum number of characters in the subject line, or, you know, people talking about you should use title case rather than sentence case. So you have a few more capitals to make people open. And the truth is these, these make a difference. But the difference is really tiny. What really matters is something people care about. And I think the interesting thing is, subject lines are important, but from addresses are very, very important too. And I mean, I've had emails where I know I open it, because it's the from address, it's got nothing to do with the subject line. I mean, do you see the same thing?

Hannah: Yes. What a brilliant point. Yeah, the from email is so important. Because if it's just from a standard marketinging app named your B2B dot com, you know, it's not personalised, you know, no one's made any effort for you. But if you have that real person behind the email, it makes such a difference.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, you know, I give a shout. I just remember one email recently, that really, I think gets a lot of white people open emails. And it was for an organisation called Zen pilots in pilot are a company that helps agencies optimise their processes. So for me, it's really relevant. And in fact, it's so relevant, that I actually downloaded one of their tools. And the tool was amazing. It was really good. So, you know, immediately I was engaged. Everything was sent by a guy called Jeff Cypher. I believe that's his real name, but it's a very memorable name. So he's a lucky guy there. And then the next time the email comes in, I'm already thinking about the tool I've used on process definition. And I'm thinking this guy's got great fun Hmm, last time I opened an email, it was brilliant. I want to open the next email. And then I can't remember he sent me through a worksheet or something that again, was, was really thoughtful. It's a really good tool. And then he sent me through a couple of personalised kind of offers to try and move me down that funnel. And I think lots of things were at play there, the subject lines, they weren't that great. I mean, they kind of refer to what what he said before, but you know, they weren't particularly innovative or creative or, and as I remember, they weren't even titled case of a sentence case. So you know, they weren't going to optimise like mad on the subject line. But because of that history, and that interaction I had, I open the email. And so I think, yes, we can look at subject lines, and we can optimise them, and you can read the MailChimp or whoever's report on, you know, this is a way to structure structure subject lines. But actually, what you've got to do is build trust. If you build trust and engagement, people will open your email. And you can pretty much get away with any subject line. If you've got that trust and engagement.

Hannah: That's some brilliant insight. Like I absolutely love that. It's about trust. It's about the content. Yes, you can do all these optimizations. But if your core content piece isn't delivering the value, then it's not going to make a difference. Anyway.

Mike: That's beautifully summarised. You've summarised about half an hour of my waffling in two sentences.

Hannah: Well, thank you so much for your time today, Mike. It's been another fantastic conversation.

Mike: Thanks so much, Hannah. And hopefully we'll have everybody else listening to the next episode of The Marketinging Automation Moment.

Thanks for listening to the Marketinging Automation Moment podcast.

Mike: Don't forget to subscribe in your favourite podcast application, and we'll see you next time.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Bugra Gunduz - HockeyStack

Accurate attribution is difficult, particularly in B2B tech, but it can be crucial in understanding the customer journey and what marketing activities drive revenue.

Buğra Gündüz, CEO of HockeyStack, an analytics and attribution platform for B2B businesses, breaks down how marketers can leverage their platforms to understand marketing data and the benefits of using specialist platforms.

He also shares his experience in growing his start-up business and the marketing activities helping to drive early-stage growth.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About HockeyStack

HockeyStack is a San Francisco-based analytics and attribution tool for B2B companies. Connecting ads, websites, and CRM platforms, HockeyStack collects data in one place, and turns that data into visual customer journeys you can analyse.

About Buğra

Buğra Gündüz is a CEO and co-founder of HockeyStack.

Time Stamps

[00:39.2] – Overview of HockeyStack, its uses and how it was founded.

[03:46.1] – Buğra discusses how marketers can understand what marketing activities drive people to become customers.

[14:28.3] – Who is HockeyStack aimed at?

[15:15.5] – How does HockeyStack approach marketing itself?

[18:18.1] – What is the best piece of marketing advice you’ve been given?

[24:23.5] – Ways to get in touch and find out more.

Quotes

“Large enterprises don't understand how their marketing funnel works, which sources work, and which sources don't. Are they getting value out of what they're spending on a channel?” - Buğra Gündüz, CEO at HockeyStack

 “I hear this all the time from clients - attribution is one of the hardest things. People are spending money, and to a large extent, it's very hard to know what drove prospects to become customers.” – Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier

Follow Farzad:

Buğra Gündüz on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/bgrgndzz/

HockeyStack website: https://hockeystack.com/

Follow HockeyStack: https://www.linkedin.com/company/hockeystack/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Bugra Gunduz - HockeyStack

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Bugra Gunduz

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

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by Buğra Gündüz. Buğra is the CEO of analytics company HockeyStack. Welcome to the podcast.

Buğra: Yeah, great to be on here.

Mike: Thank you. Well, it's great to have you on as well. So what we'd like to do is start by asking people, you know, how they got to where they are today. So tell me a bit about your career journey, and why you decided to found HockeyStack.

Buğra: So I've never really had a true full time job ever in my life. So I can't really talk about a career. I started coding when I was really young. I think I was like nine. Ever since then. I've been building digital products. That was my obsession throughout my whole life. So naturally, it led me to try out a couple different products, try selling them and build a company. I failed a couple times before. But right now lucky sec. is the one that stuck out.

Mike: You didn't find it on your own? I mean, how did you find co founders to actually start the company,

Buğra: both of my co founders, we met while building other stuff. That was a benefit of its I saw how they worked. I saw their work ethic, I saw what they liked doing what they didn't like doing. And when we found a good idea, a naturally had two people that would be really passionate about it, and stick it out with me.

Mike: That's awesome. You've actually like worked with them previously? And got that experience? I think that's great. So can you explain briefly what HockeyStack does?

Buğra: On the website, hockey sack, it says and is an analytics and attribution company for B2B businesses. Basically, what we do is we collect all data about the B2B customer journey from the start to the end, from marketing, to sales, touch points, to customer success, touch points, everything is collected and merged. And then you can analyse that data to understand what really drives revenue for your company. I guess when people think of attribution software, they think of a very narrow set of software, like traditional attribution software shows you a simple table of sources, and how many customers that those sources both, but what we do is we're building a data discovery platform. So you can dig into basically any data that is collected from the customer journey. And that allows you to access really, really accurate attribution, rather than just using attribution models, and showing that simple table.

Mike: So I mean, that's interesting. I've got loads of questions about how the product works. But I mean, but I have to ask this question. You know, attribution is famously a difficult problem to solve, particularly in B2B. So why did you pick that area? Was it just because of the challenge?

Buğra: Well, we talked to like 200 to 300 people, before even starting out building a product. And every one of those people said their biggest analytics challenge was actually attribution. People don't understand still, to this day, even large enterprises don't understand how their marketing funnel works, which sources work, which sources don't? Are they getting the value out of what they're spending on a channel? So I guess that's why we want to work on it.

Mike: No, I mean, I hear this all the time from our clients, actually, that attribution is one of the hardest things, you know, people are spending money and they, to a large extent, it's very hard to know what drove prospects become customers. So I totally agree, it's, it's definitely a problem worth solving. So maybe you could talk me through, you know, if somebody's using HockeyStack as a product. I mean, at a high level, you just walk through what they do, to try and understand what marketing activities are driving people to become customers.

Buğra: So there are a couple of ways people approach it. First, let me talk about how it's set up. Because our setup is one of our biggest differentiators. When you think about a Data Platform usually think about three months, six months at upcycles. Our setup is completed in five minutes. You connect to all your different data sources by Clevedon connect on our UI. You put a simple script on your website. If you have any other software you use that we don't have an integration for the built the integration for you free of charge. And then once all of that data is collected and merged, you're presented with templated dashboards that show you a breakdown of each channel and some reports that you find valuable that you see. So just cohorted Comparison Reports for your advertising activity for your event activity for your organic channels. And then you're presented with also a really flexible Report Builder. So you can go in and think of any report you want to create, and you can build it yourself. People like to build the conversion rate reports by source. And the good thing about collecting all data from all sources together is that you can view conversion rates across the entire funnel. So it can be of conversion rates from an email you sent, which is stored on whatever you send emails to a deal activity. Or if you use your website as a big channel, you can see conversion rates between your emails to your website, so sky's the limit, you can see conversion rates between anything, you can see the lift of any activity on any conversion rate on your sales cycle. You can see how it affects your sales cycle length, which is a big thing that our customers B2B customers, like to optimise for. Yeah, that's, that's pretty much how people like to do attribution nowadays.

Mike: So I'm just gonna ask you a question about something you said at the start of that answer. I'm sure you say you build an interface into whatever product you're using free of charge. Is that right?

Buğra: Yep. And that's because, one, we're getting pretty fast at building integration. So it doesn't have much of a cost associated with it. Obviously, if it's like a really, really custom thing, like we have some people who have their own in house CRM software that they want to want us to integrate with, which obviously is not free of charge. But if we see that there's a real deficiency in our product, then we do it free of charge.

Mike: Wow. So I mean, you know, a standard CRM or advertising platform or whatever, that had a decent API, and a reasonable user base, you'd actually just integrate, you know, whether or not you've already had that. That's amazing.

Buğra: Yeah, definitely. I'm not ashamed of admitting that, like, we're an early stage company, we just got started. The product was launched in February 2002. into, which is pretty pretty early for a software company. So obviously, we won't cover all of the integrations that companies use, but we're willing to make the effort to cover our bases.

Mike: I think it's amazing. I mean, that's, that's really refreshing. You hear a lot of people talking about how important integrations are on this podcast. And yet, they still aren't as flexible as you to build them. So I think that's amazing. I move back to HockeyStack now and ask you some questions. So I think a lot of people, you know, have maybe done a little bit of work with attribution, they use two different attribution models. So you know, last touch, first touch time decay, whatever it sounds like, you're actually taking a slightly different approach where you can go and almost interrogate the data to find out the impact of one particular activity on conversion, is that what you're doing, you're doing something slightly different, are you trying to, you know, simply allocate value for a conversion across different activities?

Buğra: Well, we also provide attribution models, they're the not industry standard, so you have to provide them. But our websites is to say 100%, accurate attribution is a pipe dream. And that is because attribution is not about assigning credit to touch points, like those models you use, you use the linear model, for example, the linear model breaks down the entire credit into all touchpoints equally, but in reality, that is not really true, like the person visited, they maybe saw a certain campaign that affected them a lot. And then they had a couple of different touch points that didn't really affect them. So you can't really know for sure that that credit is true. One you have to compare across different attribution models, that is very hard, like flexible Report Builder comes into play, because you can compare different attribution models, right on the same report, which nobody else really does to, you have to, like you said, really dig into the data to understand the lift of those activities. That table that attribution table shows you a certain channel as x much credit, but you have to dig into all of those credit deals or companies and see if they actually did those. So we give people a super detailed timeline view of all activity across all stakeholders that a company did, from like any source so that they can really add a glance understand what the company was influenced by And then where this is going in the future is, we're gonna get smarter, you're going to be able to understand just like how variable to do qualitatively, we're going to be able to understand quantitatively, which channel had the most meaningful impact on a customer's journey. I think there's a mathematical way of understanding that. But that's what we'll be working on in the future, to make it even more accurate, but I really don't think that attribution models will last like first touch last touch. Those obviously are inaccurate, even multi touch attribution models, I think, are highly inaccurate.

Mike: And that's interesting. I mean, I think a lot of people have seen a similar thing. You know, if you run, say Google ads campaign, you know that it's not just the Google Ads that's that's driving that, but Google will apply attribution, and and, frankly, quite often do it to make their ads product look good, I think.

Buğra: Well, I meant about that. Google just would most of their attribution models, except for their, I think their last ditch and also data driven. And I'm pretty sure that their data driven model, highly biassed? Is there their Google Glass product?

Mike: Yeah, I think it's interesting. I mean, data driven is kind of a bit of a black box model, isn't it? You don't really know what's going on. It's just just kind of trust us. It's gonna work model.

Buğra: Yeah. I think there's a way of like making it work making AI based models work. And we'll also be working on that. But it's just that when Google does it, you obviously know that they're trying to feed their ads product?

Mike: Yeah, of course. I'm also interested about offline activities. I mean, obviously, there's a lot of tracking of attribution online. I mean, is there a way for you to incorporate offline activities into HockeyStack?

Buğra: Yeah, so we were the first ever company to be able to do not only source based attribution, but action based attribution, that might be really vague to some listeners. But basically, all of their attribution companies show you reports broken down by which channel they came from, or which type of source they came from. With that, you're not able to really track a lot of other touch points. So what we invented is, we can attribute one action that happened across the customer journey to another action that happened before it. And that action you attribute to, if you change it to be the events, activities, event subscriptions, that you collect on your CRM, then you'll be able to attribute revenue or any other metric to your event activity. If you change that to be, for example, content consumption, if you're really heavy on your blog, maybe you can attribute revenue to your blog, and you can be break it down by exactly which blog post they read, and really understand what's happening in your content marketing. And you can apply that to any offline or online activity.

Mike: And presumably, a lot of what you're trying to do is make it really easy for the user to actually pick those items. Because I guess one of the challenges is if you look at, you know, a midsize or large size B2B organisation, they're doing an awful lot. So being able to pull out what's important is probably one of the big challenges of usability for you.

Buğra: Yeah, definitely. And I believe that their CRM does a lot of the heavy lifting. Even though a CRM as the interface looks really, really complicated. The data we pull from a CRM is super, super valuable. So whatever you input onto there, we can display it for you.

Mike: That's fantastic. I'm interested in now, I mean, is there a particular sort of type of business that you've aimed HockeyStack out? Is there a particular problem you're trying to solve?

Buğra: Well, we set out to solve analytics for B2B companies with large sales cycles. That's the type of company that has the most trouble tracking their activities, because there's so many stakeholders, so many different touchpoints marketing has an effect. Even after the sales conversation starts, marketing still has an effect. So we're trying to really make it easy for B2B companies to track their marketing activity.

Mike: And when you talk about B2B covers, is this a kind of product that only large enterprises can afford? Or is it a more affordable product for midsize companies?

Buğra: Well, we have customers from both segments. The minimum pricing starts from 12k here, which is pretty affordable for midsize company, I would say. And then for larger companies, I don't think it's that expensive of a product compared to a lot of my uptick in sales tech providers MC that are building like crazy amounts delivering no value

Mike: Absolutely. And I think also compared to the amount of money you can save by investing in what actually really drives conversions, rather than the marketing, that's ineffectual. I mean, the potential return on investment is huge.

Buğra: Yeah, that's definitely true.

Mike: I mean, just just changing track a bit. I'm interested in how you go about marketing HockeyStack. I mean, you talked a little bit before we started the interview, that you know that that was something we're quite excited about. So tell me what you do in terms of your marketing.

Buğra: Yeah, I think in the beginning of this company, I for one didn't understand marketing at all. And we had to go through a lot of challenges, trying to get it up and running. And while doing so, I think we got to really, really learn how marketing should be done in 2023. And our philosophy right now is to make our brand appear everywhere. And that sounds super big. But when you think about it, you can appear everywhere for a small set of people at a time. And once you reach a threshold, once people hear you all around them, they have no choice but to come in, in bulk to asking to do business with you. And a lot of sales conversations, we do start with people saying, Oh, it was long overdue, have we been seeing you around all the time, we've been DMing with experts in your team. Like, we already have a relationship with most of the people that we have sales conversation with. And even if you don't have relationship, we have a one sided relationship where they're consuming your content. And how we go about doing it is we have a list of customers that we want to target list of about 20 25,000 companies, we select a small set of people from there, we tried to show them our content, one, we produce content that is relevant to them to figure out where they hang out. Currently, they all hang out on LinkedIn. So we push a lot of Lincoln content. Three, we target them with digital advertising. And for whatever podcasts, they listen to, whatever community they're part of, we are there. And once that happens for that set of people, we can probably observe the effect of that within three, four weeks, and they start coming inbound or inbound volume shoots up, we can attribute it effectively to altruistic those activities we're doing since we are an education company. And then we move to the other segment of people.

Mike: I mean, that's really interesting. That sounds, I mean, like you're so focused, you're almost, you know, really doing Account Based Marketing, rather than than try and broad brush, you're trying to really focus down but you're, you're not just doing it through classic Account Based Marketing techniques. You're also looking at trying to understand, you know, as you said, you know, the podcasts that people might be listening to, that's a really interesting approach to focusing your time and your effort.

Buğra: Yeah, I think it's either ABM at scale, or it's brand marketing at a smaller scale.

Mike: And it's interesting. I mean, clearly, you also believe in frequency. And, you know, as a follow on question, I'm interested in what the best bit of advice you've ever been given in marketing and how you've implemented that, in campaigns you've run.

Buğra: I've never been given a good piece of advice and marketing. I'll be honest with you. I had a lot of advisors, when trying to get everything up and running when we had $0 in revenue. I think everyone's journey is different. Every single company is different. What works for a company doesn't work for another company, even though it is the same exact company, even if it was the same exact company wouldn't work simply because you're doing it a different cohort of people and a different time. If you give it enough time, every single strategy will work. We just needed to find one that we could scale up fast and stick to it.

Mike: And that's interesting, because it sounds like what you're saying is you've You've almost got to experiment and find out what works for you. Because you're almost saying maybe you haven't been given great advice, but perhaps there isn't that magic piece of advice that you can get.

Buğra: Yeah, basically, let me tell you the story of how this all came up. We weren't growing at all he had revenue. But this is like early last year, we had launched a product but couldn't get it up and running. And then we were following the trivet traditional marketing playbook, like running ads, doing blog posts, ebooks, etc. And at some point, I thought we're not growing. We need something that is truly different than what we're doing right now. because it's obvious that this is gonna take a long time. And it's not because the strategy was bad is because like, we just couldn't make it Soviet something different that we could scale up fast. So one day, me and my co founder sat down, we kept all of our growth related documentation on notion. We sat down on notion we deleted everything. And then we wrote down, what do you want to test what we think as prospect of forgetting what the saw that worked in the past, and basically, our strategies for testing that within a single month. And then we got to doing it. Within two months, from all those things we tested, we rolled out like 70% of them, the 30% We kept was the goldmine, because he got really good at executing those. And we got really fast at getting results from those. Two months later, we saw our first contract signed from a prospect that came from those activities, and then it scaled up from there. And right now we have really, really good volume, I think we're one of the fastest growing B2B companies in the space. So I guess that works.

Mike: That's amazing. I love the way that you started by throwing everything away and starting from scratch from first principles. I think that's, that's very impressive, and probably very brave as well.

Buğra: Yeah, I mean, it was really obvious that it didn't work. And I think there are a lot of big companies, that should do it right now as well. Like, I'm talking to a lot of marketing people every day. And I'm seeing that 90% of those companies don't really have a good marketing strategy. They're just getting customers because they're big.

Mike: I'm interested, I mean, we've talked about this and some of the difficulty around finding the right tactics. And we've also, at the moment, seeing a lot of new tools coming in. And you know, everyone's freaking out at the moment about AI replacing marketing jobs. One thing we'd like to ask, you know, all I guess is, if you knew a young person who was thinking of going into marketing, what would be your advice,

Buğra: my advice would be to go work at a small early stage startup, really observe everything that they're getting from the market, every signal that they're getting from the market, and be able to deliver that company, a, an asymmetric amount of value, by reacting to those signals, it's really easy to do marketing, I think, you just need to go and try it out yourself. And you need the products to work on that product to be your child. So you can prove yourself. And once you make that company work, you can basically do anything.

Mike: That's That's great advice. I mean, it is, it is certainly challenging, I think for people, you know, new to the marketing industry to to go into that startup environment. But I love that thought and the feeling that people would have such an accelerated learning curve in the environment.

Buğra: Yeah, well, the easy way to get into a startup is to provide them value upfront, a startup will always need you to give them more value than they're giving you. So they're gonna give you a low salary, they're gonna give you equity, that doesn't really equate to anything that has a 99% chance of going to zero. And they're gonna give you long hours, they're gonna give you no work life balance. You have to endure that, like in the various stages of your career, you can't really seek out work life balance or a higher salary. You just need to endure that prove yourself out. And then you will do whatever you want.

Mike: That's amazing. Invest in yourself by that, you know, tough first few years. And then the world's your oyster, I guess. Definitely. This has been amazing. It's been very interesting. We've covered, you know, all sorts of things from career advice all the way through to, you know, I think just scratching the surface on on analytics and attribution. Is there anything you feel we should have covered that we haven't talked about?

Buğra: No, I think this was really helpful. I'm gonna repurpose some kind of out of this as well. So

Mike: well, I mean, thank you, Buğra, for being on the podcast. I know that people listening will be interested in maybe asking you questions, and certainly, you know, taking a look at HockeyStack to see if it can help them understand what are their marketing activities are actually generating revenue. So how can people contact you if they want more information?

Buğra: Yeah, I'm really active on LinkedIn. So if you DM me there, I'll definitely see it I read on and that's just my thought and

Mike: that's great. And what about the product? Where should people go to find out more about HockeyStack?

Buğra: To find out more about HockeyStack, we have a great website, good copy, hockey sec.com. We have a live demo. You can go and play with the product yourself. That is the entire product that we put on there like we put the exact product you see onto the website and you can play with it for free without giving out anything

Mike: That's fantastic. That was probably, I think, you know, a great marketing tool as well. It gives people a really good understanding of the capabilities that probably goes way beyond any number of web pages trying to explain it.

Buğra: You know, I think that's one of the best things we ever did. And it was by accident.

Mike: That's great. And I think maybe that's a story for another podcast. I mean, Buğra, thank you so much for being such a great guest on the podcast. I really appreciate your time. 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.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Sharekh Shaikh - CleverX

Market research is a massive industry, but despite this global interest, the sector lacks innovation and struggles to manage fraudulent data.

Sharekh Shaikh, founder of CleverX, discusses how his platform aims to provide market research teams with complete control of the quality and reliability of their research with access to top-level business professionals.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About CleverX

CleverX is an audience discovery platform for market and product research teams, connecting researchers with >20K senior professionals ranging from the world’s leading companies like Apple, McKinsey, NASA to founders of exciting startups.

About Sharekh

Sharekh Shaikh is a 2X founder in the human capital and the future of work space. He has successfully created businesses that have generated $ multi-million in sales. He has also raised >$1M on his new startup CleverX.

Time Stamps

[01:49.0] – Overview of CleverX and its uses.

[07:52.2] – Quantitative vs qualitive research – Sharekh discusses the two major methods of research

[11:53.2] – How is AI impacting the product? – The opportunities and pitfalls of AI in the research space

[20:40.7] – Would you recommend market research as a career to a young person?

[22:53.2] – What is the best piece of marketing advice you’ve been given?

[24:24.5] – Ways to get in touch and find out more.

Quotes

“Traditional ways of doing online surveys in the B2B space are very broken, it is almost 40% fraud data.” Sharekh Shaikh, Founder at CleverX.

“Companies which create narrative around a product, which probably isn't even the best product, still win.” Sharekh Shaikh, Founder at CleverX.

Follow Sharekh:

Sharekh Shaikh on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/sharekh-shaikh-4591874/

CleverX website: https://cleverx.com/

Follow CleverX: https://www.linkedin.com/company/cleverxhq/

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/mikemaynard/

Napier website: https://www.napierb2b.com/

Napier LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/napier-partnership-limited/

If you enjoyed this episode, be sure to subscribe to our podcast for more discussions about the latest in Marketing B2B Tech and connect with us on social media to stay updated on upcoming episodes. We'd also appreciate it if you could leave us a review on your favourite podcast platform.

Want more? Check out Napier’s other podcast - The Marketing Automation Moment: https://podcasts.apple.com/ua/podcast/the-marketing-automation-moment-podcast/id1659211547

Transcript: Interview with Sharekh Shaikh - CleverX

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Sharekh Shaikh

Mike: Thanks for listening to marketing B2B Tech, the podcast from Napier, where you can find out what really works in B2B marketing today. Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by Sharekh Shaikh, Sharekh is the founder of a company called CleverX. Welcome to the show Sharekh.

Sharekh: Hey, happy to be here. Mike, thank you so much for having me.

Mike: It's great to have you on the show. So we always like to start off with a question about your career journey. Do you want to tell us how your career's gone and why you ended up founding CleverX.

Sharekh: You know, this is my fourth country, I live in the US now, in California in Palo Alto. This is 1/4 country, I've lived in different countries before, mostly spend time in technology. So I'm a software engineer by trade, did my you know this is MBA in Singapore, and then worked in Dubai for many years, and now in the US, but the amount of time that I spent between the place where technology and market research comes together was a reason for me to start clever acts. But what I learned in that process is that this industry is struggling with a lot of fraudulent data. It's a massive industry, which is around like $70 billion global spent. And it's not as innovative as it should be, in my view for the spend that it has all around the world. So we tried to build this innovative platform that solves a lot of problems for market researchers, product research teams. And I think that was the reason for me to start. Clever Axia.

Mike: So let's talk about clever acts. I mean, CleverX is obviously something to help people do market research, can you just explain what the product does.

Sharekh: So if you look at the, you know, traditional market research industry, there are two major ways of conducting research, qualitative and quantitative research methods. Quantitative mostly is related to online surveys, which is a major chunk of money that's spent by the most of the world in terms of market research. And there's a very small 10 11% of money that's spent on like one to one sort of engagement for research purposes. What we're trying to focus here is give, you know, market research teams, the control on the quality, and the reliability on the research by giving them access to the world's top level business professionals, and the tools that they already use come together seamlessly. So think of it this way, if I'm conducting an online survey, I'm hosting that online survey on Qualtrics. What level X allows you to do is bring that survey from Qualtrics into our platform, and connect it to a verifiable, senior, you know, audience to that survey that doesn't exist today. The reason being traditional ways of doing like online surveys in the B2B space are very broken, it is almost 40% fraud data, because a lot of people wouldn't know this. Even if you spend a million dollars, you wouldn't know who your research participants are when it comes to online surveys. So let's say a big company goes ahead and does like an online survey, they have no idea. Even if they spend $100, on a successful survey response, they have no idea who took that survey. So that's the problem cloud X is trying to solve, I think for just solving that particular problem. We've seen like a growth of 5x in the last one year, in terms of our revenues, and you know, team as well.

Mike: So it's interesting. So I mean, just to make sure I've understood this, what you're doing is you're providing effectively a pre selected audience and audience that CleverX has created on the platform that experts or senior leaders in the field that will then answer your survey. So you're getting very, very high quality answers to survey questions. Is that right?

Sharekh: You're getting identified users. So it almost looks like a professional network. So if you sign up on the platform, you can connect with 1000s of people on the platform today. You can ask questions to them. So if I'm conducting research with let's say, Mike, I can actually chat with you and see like, Hey, Mike, you answer this question number 10 on the survey in a different way. And I want to do a call with you now. So you can extend your research by interacting with every single respondent who's been a part of your research project, which, which is, I think, a big, you know, change for this industry that has never happened before. Yeah.

Mike: Well, so that that's something actually quite different. So not only do you get the survey result back, but you're actually doing people dive deeper and go in and ask follow up questions or ask the why behind the house. Is that Is that what you're doing?

Sharekh: Yeah, absolutely. You can you can ask them the why behind the particular question, but you can also go ahead and extend your research by saying, hey, let's do a call and I'll pay you like $500 for the next one hour of your time. So for research, it brings a lot of reliability and control into your research process. In today's world You don't know who your respondent is. So it's very difficult for me to say I got a survey response from 100 people. But I don't know who these people are, is it really a reliable outcome that I should base my multimillion dollar decision on? And that's a scary thing for a researcher to answer to the board or to the CEO of a company.

Mike: So, you know, I'm interested, you mentioned this group of experts that you have, I mean, how, how many industries do you cover? I mean, how broad is the actual range of these professionals?

Sharekh: Yeah, I think most of our professionals on the platform are in the US, most of them are manager or above position, you wouldn't need CleverX to connect with someone who's at a junior position, you can do that on LinkedIn right away, what we're trying to do is get you the access to hard to reach business audiences, someone you cannot connect with on LinkedIn. And if you do, they're most likely not going to respond to you, because of trust are spam issues that happen on LinkedIn. So we did a study, which is very interesting, or 1000s, of, you know, outreach, or LinkedIn, the standard is one acknowledgement for every 20 emails, that's how frustrating it is for a market researcher to connect with one respondent. So with clever is that that problem is solved where you can go and directly connect with these people. Because since the money and the trust is guaranteed on the platform, it becomes very easy for two strangers to interact with each other to transact that value for research and money.

Mike: And I've actually had a play with looking at different industries. So this is probably a bit unfair to ask you. But I mean, what sort of industries do you cover? Is it around a specific industry? Or how broad? Yeah,

Sharekh: yeah, I think we are quite, you know, you want to be quite broad. But being a marketplace, you have to be more verticalized in the beginning, then being horizontal. So we don't want to be the platform for everyone right now, we will be hopefully in the future. But right now, we are covering marketing, which is being used heavily on the platform, technology would be the other one, and healthcare and HR. These are the four verticals that people are using the platform mostly on. But there are close to 133, niche verticals in the world for expertise. And we want to have all those people, millions of users using the platform and become this sort of like, probably a bad analogy ever something like think of it like an Amazon or a Shopify, for market research in B2B.

Mike: I mean, it's really interesting because I actually looked at something fairly niche in terms of people who were engineers designing with semiconductors, and actually found some some experts on the platform. So there's certainly a few I mean, where you have perhaps something that's much more niche, presumably, people can go straight into a video call or a discussion, and get qualitative feedback, where you don't have the volume to get quantitative. Is that the way you'd approach it? If you've worked in, you know, one of the smaller niches?

Sharekh: Yeah, absolutely. I see. You've got to understand the context behind qualitative and quantitative, I've always, you know, learn this from our customers, you do quantitative, which is online surveys to get collective intelligence. What do you want know is like 100 people have a same job role in a particular industry think about a particular topic, right? That's what you're trying to understand. Like, what's the sentiment there? How are they thinking and feeling about? Once? Once you have that answer, the next step would be qualitative, which is like going deeper into that particular thing with five or 10 people to know the small details, you know, of why that's happening? Or, you know, what are the things that they should care about? That's the context between qualitative and quantitative, but mostly, our platform is being used for quantitative. There are expert networks all around the world, we can solve the same problem around qualitative, like the GLG is the gardeners of the world. And I'm an ex gardener. So I understand this industry really well. But I think most of the problems that we're solving are around this collective intelligence, which is this quantitative online service part in the research.

Mike: That's interesting. That's kind of a process that, as you described, is built in where you do the research and then dig in. I love the way that that's kind of almost built in as a process. So it kind of makes it easy for people to take the right approach.

Sharekh: Yeah, absolutely.

Mike: So I'm interested to know, you know, how do people use this service? So what sort of things companies typically wanting to find out? And how do they go about doing it? Yeah,

Sharekh: very interesting project. So suddenly, we've been seeing like a lot of projects happening on the platform around Chatterjee beginning AI. That's like the most trending topic in the technology world. So people are building these incredible products, in large enterprises or at startups. And they're approaching a lot of people who have built AI solutions before on the platform. So we are seeing big market research teams coming and bringing their online surveys and trying to conduct surveys with machine learning developers on the platform. So let's say they want to conduct 200 online surveys with machines Learning developers. On the other hand, we seem like startups which are trying to find a product market fit in AI application. And they're trying to talk to these people who are CIOs where they want to sell this product, and ask them questions around pricing, or, hey, does this make sense? Or will Google come and build this in the future or charge GPD might come up with a new plugin that can, you know, completely change the dynamic of that particular industry. So those are the questions people are asking on the qualitative side, and quantitative side. So it's very interesting to see how trends shape my goal as a founder is when when CleverX becomes like a massive big company, to understand the pulse of the world, because we will have a very good understanding of what the world is looking for. Because the amount of data that we generate on just these projects that happen every day on the platform is incredible. We get to understand what people are really thinking, you know, and where things are moving in the future.

Mike: So you could almost act as a resource for industry knowledge, once you've got the data from the surveys, is that where you see yourselves going?

Sharekh: Yeah, I think data is a big mod for our platform. I mean, it is still very small, but 1000s of surveys and hundreds of calls happening on the platform every month. And we see what people are actually talking to each other about kind of projects that they post within the platform, or the opportunities that are getting created around market research. That gives us a pretty good sense of a particular industry, what people are thinking in that direction. It's also a very fun thing that I've noticed, the senior people on the other side of the platform, we're participating in research, also tell researchers like hey, I'm going to participate, you're going to pay me this $100 or $200, whatever for this research. But I want to know what the outcome of your research is going to be once the study is finalised. So people in general are very curious to know. Because what's going on in the industry as well. So that's very exciting to me. And we see that happen quite often. Yeah,

Mike: I can imagine certainly, you know, talked about AI, there's got to be a lot of people who are on the platform, who wants to know what the future of AI is. So we're gonna want to know this research that that makes a lot of sense to me.

Sharekh: Yeah. Last year, that was metalworks. You know, we've seen a lot of companies trying to talk to people in that space without naming the names of companies, but understanding like, where's the future? What's happening, even just for curiosity, even if you're not going to spend money, but just to understand, is there an opportunity there for our company to build something or create a service around that particular topic? Yeah.

Mike: So I think we want to explore you know, whether there's any alternatives to using something like CleverX, I mean, you know, we've talked about AI, do you ever see AI being able to evaluate new products?

Sharekh: I think we got to see AI becoming a part of different workflow, CPUs, AI, have you been using AI for the last many years, you know, but big companies like the apples and the Google, you know, the products that we use, but I think now it's kind of democratised with new, you know, alums, and companies that charge up to opening up their platforms to everyone to use. And that's opened up like startups, which can create vertical niche solutions to solve a specific problem in a specific industry. In market research, we will see that happen when it comes to you can tell your AI like, hey, go ahead and create a survey for transportation C level execs because these are the XYZ questions that I want to get answered from them. Can you go ahead and create a survey for me there is a possibility that's going to happen very soon. The other possibility could be, hey, can you tell me what the sentiment of 100 people has been on the survey? Right, so that sentiment analysis can happen. It's happening in certain cases already. But what AI cannot do is talk about an experience that Sharik has had on Mike has had in their life working for a particular company, doing a certain project that AI cannot do, it can give you what's out there in the in the public domain, the data that's already there, summarise it and give you a pretty good answer to learn something from, but it cannot go deeper to a human level and that post political experience a human being has had in doing something and that's, that's where I think, you know, we are different than machines are. And that's, that's pretty amazing, actually, to think about it.

Mike: And that's pretty cool. It, you know, gives us optimism that AI is not going to replace us all and actually that person experience is going to be important. Yeah, I mean, talking about personal experiences and relationships. You know, I know a lot of B2B companies, their market research is somewhat around going to the sales team and saying, check with a few customers see what they think. I mean, what's the benefit of doing a more formalised process through CleverX rather than working with the sales team?

Sharekh: Yeah, I think sales team getting feedback from a sales team is a given you have to do it. But when you run a formalised process, you're putting a really deep thought into every single question that you're asking them. You're trying to understand nuance answers of things which a lot of companies miss out on. And I think the answers lie in the details, you know, most of the major decisions or any company that's found an edge in, you know, competing better in a particular industry, or becoming the best in that industry has always been a detail oriented company, it doesn't happen by luck and float, where you can say, like, oh, we talked to 10 customers, and this is what they want. And this is how it's going to look like the companies which has gone deeper with every single customer try to figure out, you know, what their problems or challenges are, I think those are the winners, you can create an average company, of course, doing that, but but I think the goal of companies, which are using research as as a method to learn more about the customers have an edge over companies, which do not because you're putting in really thought and time into it and figuring things out.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. I mean, I think it's, it's clearly something that's a little bit deeper, a little more rigorous than than talking to the sales team. I mean, that makes sense to me. Yeah. I mean, I guess on the other hand, people might say, Well, you've got a group of people on the CleverX platform, how do I know they're representative of my audience? I mean, what are you doing to make sure that the people on the platform are representative of a particular industry or particular area?

Sharekh: Yeah, so the platform has his discovery function, which is pretty exciting. Where you can find people by, you know, their location, you can find people by in their, in their industry, their skill set, profiles of people on collaborates, or as exhaustive as your LinkedIn profile would be, right. But the biggest validation for me as a person who's trying to conduct research is directly talking to my respondent or chats, asking them questions before even starting my research project, to know like, are these the right group of people that I want to conduct research with, or there are other sets of people or persons that I can go after and connect with, so you can even filter people by their job roles. So let's say I'm trying to conduct a project, understanding how the macro environment is changing SMB, as a sector, I can actually go ahead and find people by their designations, buy the company type, the revenues of the company, and things of that sort. So you can do a lot of filtering, and finding those specific people that you want to talk about, or even test idea that are these the right person or that I should be talking to before I even start conducting research. So talking to people on club X platform is free, you can go and chat with as many people as you want to, just like you would do it on LinkedIn or any other, you know, social network.

Mike: So it's interesting. So you can actually go and almost test the audience for free before you actually commit.

Sharekh: Yeah, absolutely. Our goal is to make sure that product researchers market researchers are empowered, they have all the control, and they are directly interacting with the respondent. So today, the way research works is there are multiple companies, parties involved between the researcher and the respondent. So a lot of people in the value chain, and we even want it ourselves to be out of that equation. So we've given this platform we democratises access to each other for a researcher as well as a respondent. And that solves a lot of problems when you directly talk to the person you're researching solves enormous amount of like issues that are currently existing in this industry.

Mike: So thanks, Shrek, one of the questions that people are probably thinking is this platform sounds amazing in terms of accessing, you know, this, this huge resource of people who can advise you on products or technologies? I mean, is it something that's painfully expensive, or can midsize companies access this sort of technology.

Sharekh: So we have customers from the Microsoft's of the world, to the largest research companies in the world using our platform. We also have like really tiny startups, which are, which don't even have a product today, using the platform. So it's, you know, skills based on the need that a customer would have, we see that by giving a sense of his platform, you can reduce the cost of research. So for example, the amount of money that you would spend to recruit one exec for one video call would somewhere go in the range of $800 to even $1,500, depending on the kind of service that you're using. With CleverX, you can just sell service, use the platform and spend probably less than 50% of that, because you're doing the heavy lifting and connecting with these people and talking to them, rather than a new service provider, which is going to do this on your behalf. So it depends. If a customer wants to have a concert service, where they want someone to give them everything. Probably CleverX is not the platform for them to use. But there are customers who who want to take control of the research process and they want to do everything by themselves. For them CleverX makes a lot of sense.

Mike: I'm presuming those customers get a lot of value because of this ability to ask those follow up questions and really take it from just being a survey to be a conversation. Yeah,

Sharekh: you can extend your research and that's the beauty of of the platform is and there are Adding new research methods as well. So we are even incorporating in the new version of the product where you can even do product research. So you can give the product to a customer, let's say you're building an app, and you want this customer to interact with your app, you can just give the app to them to our platform, just sit there and watch them interact with that product. And you record all those details. So what Lex is doing is all these amazing tools that are out there to solve these problems. We are integrating them into our platform and giving you access of those tools and audiences in one single place. And that's not been done before, for I don't know, decades. And I think that's the problem you're trying to solve for different type of research methods.

Mike: That's great. I, you know, I'm interested, we've talked a lot about market research. I mean, one of the things we'd like to ask guests is, you know, if you had a young person thinking of a career in the your case or career market research, I mean, do you think this is going to be exciting place to be in the next few years?

Sharekh: You know, it's interesting, I was just talking to someone couple of days back, she's 21 years old, and she's asking me a question, I want to get into, you know, a tech company, what kind of role should I look for? I mentioned, or you should go into product research product management role in the future. I think that's where the fun is, I think human beings are designed to create, and product research, product marketing, product management, or roles where you get the ability to create something or be a part of creation. Same thing goes with market research, as well, with even larger and smaller industries is like, you're coming up with these insights and these golden nuggets to find two small things that probably are uncovered and people are not aware of, and that could help you build something or build a building amazing service or a product out of it. I think that's a very fun process has become very frustrating with the way the traditional industry has done it in the past. But that's what we want to change. We want to make it a fun, exciting process, because actually is, is an amazing, you know, thing to do research and figured out something that a lot of people don't know, probably around the world. Yeah.

Mike: And that's great to hear that technology is making a particular career more exciting and more fun. I mean, I think a lot of people think technology is about taking jobs, but but you're doing almost exactly the opposite.

Sharekh: Yeah, I think researchers like I have a lot of people have been on the on the other side where I've done research as well working for Gartner. And it's not easy, it's a really frustrating job, you require a lot of hard work. There's a lot of dependency on multiple things that are happening in a particular research project. Yeah, but if you can make it like fun, entertaining and faster, I think you can make the job and life easier. If you can save, like let's say a few hours every week for research, I think we've accomplished enough as a startup to solve their, you know, give them extra time for themselves and their families. Yeah,

Mike: that's great. I mean, another thing we like to ask, I guess, is about marketing. And I mean, interested to know, what's the best marketing advice you've ever received?

Sharekh: I've been in B2B sales for a long period of time. I personally found one advice or statement by Bill Gates, a lot of people might find this very contrarian as an as an advice. If someone asked him a question saying, like, if you're given $1, what are you going to spend on when it comes to marketing, and he said, PR, and I realised that you know, when br happens is you can just create this amazing narrative and education about a company, because my learning has been the best products always do not win. companies, which have created this narrative around a product, which probably is not the best product in the world, still wins. And that's, that's very interesting to me, you know, we always think like, Hey, I'm gonna create the best product and it has to win. Of course, your goal is to create the best product, don't get me wrong, but I think this narrative, this education that you create around a particular trend, or a product that makes winners, that has been my personal learning, I'm sure a lot of people would disagree with me on this. But I think that's a pretty amazing advice. Very contrarian.

Mike: Well, I think, given the fact that as an agency, we do a lot of PR, we'll be very happy with that advice. That's not a problem. So Chirag I really appreciate your time. I think it's been great. There's been some really fantastic insights into doing market research and and how that's changing for B2B. If people would like more information, or they'd like to try the CleverX product. I mean, how would they go about doing that?

Sharekh: It's pretty straightforward. You just go on the platform, clever. x.com, see levrx.com. And you can sign up for free, you can import all your LinkedIn data onto the platform, it takes you 30 seconds to sign up. And then you can start receiving amazing work opportunities around research or you can hire people for your own research work. So it's a very straightforward, amazing platform to intuitive and simple platform to use. If you want to reach out to me, I think LinkedIn would be the best way you can put my name Shahrukh. under Search most likely I will be the first head. Lucky for me the name is kind of unique. So it should work out. But yeah, reach out to me on LinkedIn happy to answer any questions around research or just any help that I could be offered to anyone.

Mike: That's very generous, Sherif. I know people appreciate that. I mean, thank you so much for being on the podcast. It's been a really interesting chat. I really appreciate that.

Sharekh: I really appreciate that. Mike, thank you so much for having 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.


A Napier Podcast Interview with Bonnie Crater - Full Circle Insights

Bonnie Crater, President and CEO of Full Circle Insights, explains why companies struggle to identify what marketing activities impact pipeline opportunities and clarifies what attribution means and what to consider when selecting an attribution model.

She also shares the best piece of advice that she has received as a marketer and the insights she would give to someone starting their career.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Bonnie Crater - Full Circle Insights

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Bonnie Crater

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

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today, I'm joined by Bonnie Crater, Bonnie is the president and CEO of full circle insights. Welcome to the podcast, Bonnie.

Bonnie: Thank you so much, Mike. It's great to be here.

Mike: Great to have you on. I mean, the first thing we always like to understand is how our guests got to the position they're currently in. So can you talk to me a little bit about your career journey, and why you feel full circles the place you want to be now?

Bonnie: Yeah, so I live in California. So I grew up in Silicon Valley. And I always wanted to go into marketing. I found my way at some bigger companies in the beginning Oracle and so on, and then drifted to to startups. But every time I did a marketing job, I was VP of Marketing five times, actually. And every time I had one of those jobs, I always wanted to do a better job at explaining the impact of the marketing activities on pipeline, and revenue. Basically, just really worked better with sales. And so I didn't really have a very good way of doing this with the technology that was available to me at the time. And that's really why we built and started full circle is to help people like me, who were really interested in understanding, you know, alright, is any of this stuff actually working? And how well is it working, and which stuff is not working? And that way I can really realign my budget so that I can optimise the activities that we were working on.

Mike: I think it's interesting, a lot of the best startups are people are effectively building something to solve a problem they've had, which, which clearly is something you've done here.

Bonnie: Yeah, it was a big problem for us, I, you know, go to a meeting with a bunch of executives. And in the meeting, everybody would be bringing all of their data to the meeting. And I literally have not very much information about how well our marketing was working. And so I became very interested in trying to solve this problem for myself, but also other people that were very interested in solving the problem, too.

Mike: So you're trying to measure how well marketing is doing? So can you just explain a little more detail what full circle as a product actually does?

Bonnie: Yeah, so we are a software company. So we make software for B2B companies. So this is the business companies. And the software does marketing analytics. It's a package of software that has a lot of pre configuration to it. So it just makes it easy for marketers to deploy, they can leverage all of the pre built reports and dashboards and get to work right away.

Mike: I mean, I guess effectively, what you're trying to do is work out which marketing activities generate revenues? Is that what you're doing? You're trying to link sales to marketing?

Bonnie: Yeah. And that's known as attribution typically, is how, what is the impact of all of the different activities on pipeline, and revenue. So salespeople are very interested in pipeline. So the total value of your opportunities, then revenue would be all the close one deals. So sometimes you can do a lot of activities that don't generate any pipeline. Or maybe you have a particular set of activities or group of activities that you're doing that generates tonnes of pipeline. But maybe some of that pipeline actually doesn't close one. So really understanding of the dynamics of all that is what full circle is all about.

Mike: And what IT companies find this this so hard to work out what marketing is actually impacting the pipeline, and what and what marketing is doing nothing.

Bonnie: Well, first of all, there's a little bit of confusion about this word attribution is want to talk about that a little bit. Because the way we view the world is that there's really two types of key metrics. One is about a funnel. So this is a an age old concept of a sales funnel. So you have leads that come at the top and deals that come out of the bottom. And then there's a newer concept that was introduced, I don't know, whatever, 10 years ago about the concept of attribution, which is really about impact on pipeline and revenue. And these two sets of metrics are really different. The funnel is all about process, right? What's the volume velocity conversion rate from stage to stage in the funnel, you can see in the data, you can see when things break, for example, you know, leads don't get passed to sales in a very efficient way. For example, attribution, on the other hand, is all about optimising budgets. So you can see impact on pipeline and revenue. And then you can stack ranks, all of the campaigns that you're running based on their impact on pipeline and revenue. You might even want to try to look at campaigns in combination, because some campaigns work better when you're doing other campaigns together. So all of this is a technology that's all available now. And if I just had this, you know, when I was a VP of Marketing, I'd be such a much better marketer than I, then I was.

Mike: I'm presumably, I mean, when you talk about attribution, you're applying some sort of algorithm, because marketing can touch people, you know, right at the start at the awareness phase, or it can be an impact to move people through the funnel further down. So, I mean, do you create those algorithms do? Do your customers build them? How does that work?

Bonnie: Yeah. So moving away from funnel metrics, and just focusing on this attribution. And back to your question of why is the fuel find the so hard? The reason is that the the way that you calculate attribution can be different for different companies or different purposes. So attribution, folks that are experts at attribution, they refer to the models, attribution models that are associated with the calculation. And those models take a form. And many people have heard, oh, it's a, for example, the phrase first touch model. And what that means is, you're looking at the first time anyone had an interaction with your, your company. And you're going to give all of the pipeline dollar amount, or all of the close $1 amount to the campaign that is in that first touch. Another model potentially, would be an even spread model, where most, most folks when they're interacting and purchasing something, it's complex, they have lots of interactions with a with a company. And so in an even spread model, you'd take the total amount of pipeline or total amount of, of closed one revenue, and you'd split it evenly across all of those touches. So you can see how in a first touch model versus an even spread model, when you would get different results, because the models are just different. Now, why do people find this hard to do? Well, the math is not that hard. But what's challenging for folks is to try to understand like, well, when should I apply a first touch model? Or when should I apply an even spread model? Well, I think that's a great thing to talk about. I mean, I think, you know, even when you run Google ads, you see these different attribution models. And Google just says, so use this one is what we recommend. And I think most people possibly just click on the Google recommendation. But what is the thought process behind how you decide on attribution model? It's really based on your marketing strategy. So say, you're trying to really put a lot of stuff into top of the funnel, right? That first touch model makes a lot of sense, because basically, what you're trying to do is you're trying to run campaigns that put a lot in the top of the funnel, and even spread gives you a better understanding of how the marketing applies to all aspects of the sales cycle. And you might have a last touch model, or something that accelerates the the the credit as it goes to a close one deal if you have a whole bunch of folks in your pipe or ready, and you're trying to get them close one. So with marketing, it answered the question, what marketing is helping you close one? So it's all about your marketing strategy? What are you trying to accomplish for the company, and then select models that will reflect that strategy.

Mike: And that sounds like good advice for companies that want to improve their their use of attribution is think about the strategy and match your measurement to what you're trying to achieve.

Bonnie: 100% Yeah. And so folks, oftentimes will struggle with trying to figure out what what they want to do. And the other aspect of this is don't run one model, you've had to run multiple models at the same time, because you're because you want to see, not just one, one point of view on your data, you want multiple points of view, so you get a broader understanding of how your marketing is actually working.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. I mean, I think, you know, one of the things I hear a lot about attribution is attribution isn't incrementality. And so you might touch someone with marketing, but it may not actually have an impact, even if they buy because they're gonna buy anyway. I mean, can you talk a little bit about differentiating between attribution, and then deciding what actually increases revenue?

Bonnie: Well, all of our customers use Salesforce. And so in Salesforce, you have deals, which are called opportunities. And those opportunities can be classified in in various, various ways. So, for example, new business or upsell, or cross sell, or perhaps a renewal repeat, kind of kind of opportunity. And so by cutting the data, based on the kind of sale it is, it's a new business. Yeah, it's always going to be incremental, because it's new business.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. And so you're taking this short, you're measuring the impact of marking but you're also measuring the performance of sales funnels you alluded to earlier. So do you want to talk about what What you're doing with a sales funnel and how you're helping that become more efficient, and how that can inform marketers about what they should be doing.

Bonnie: Yeah, so many folks in an enterprise world are very familiar with a group called Forrester or serious decisions. And those folks define methodologies for various funnels. So the one that that folks are very familiar because it's actually probably a 20 year old idea is the is a person based sales and marketing funnel. And so there was a methodology that was produced was actually patented by this company siriusdecisions, which was purchased by Forrester. And it basically divided the funnel into four or five stages. So inquiry, marketing, qualified lead, sales, accepted leads, sales, qualified lead and closed one, which is a very simplified version of you know, what happens in in complex sales processes. But that became a standard so that that standard is a person based funnel, so you're following people who work at companies. And what they responded to about 10 years after that the notion of Account Based Marketing became very popular. And so that notion was picked up by a series decisions, and then also now Forrester in their new Forrester B2B revenue waterfall. And so that methodology is what most people are working from, from which characterises an account based marketing funnel. And so that's not based on people as the construct, it's based on accounts. Now, what's cool about doing Account Based Marketing is that sales teams, and sales people that you might work with, which are, are also focused on accounts. So Account Based Marketing is a great way to actually tie the activities of marketing and sales together. And the campaigns marketing funnel has a different set of stages based on, you know, setting a set of target accounts, and so on until it's a closed one deal.

Mike: I will see you actually Forrester recently been talking about opportunities funnels now where they're actually splitting the opportunities within companies. So presumably, there's this view of the perfect funnel, it's gonna keep changing as we move forward.

Bonnie: Yeah, I think there's always going to be new invention, and a new optimization about how to actually do B2B marketing in the best way possible. So yeah, for sure, there's going to be innovation and changes. The reason that this is my interpretation, but the reason that Forrester talks about opportunity based Funnels is that the focus is on getting marketers to think not just about people, and getting people to do things, but get hold counts, and to drive, drive a sales interaction, or an opportunity. So it's just a slightly modified theme, but person based funnel or, or account based funnel, they both work. And most larger companies actually do a bit of both, you know, they focus on the people, because you have because you people do things. And they focus on accounts, because they're trying to get more cats.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. So, you know, when you've got, you know, particularly customers, they're focusing on trying to improve their marketing and their sales to ultimately I guess, sell more products, you know, what do they do, that actually works that helps them improve that sales process?

Bonnie: Well, the the first thing is, is to really understand and measure how much time it takes to go through each stage. And this is reflected in either a person based on campus funnel. So for example, you if you have the time it takes to go from one stage to another takes a really long time, you can see it in the data that is taking a really long time. So this is an opportunity for discussion, you can have meeting with the folks that are supposed to be following up or we're responsible for taking it to that next stage and discuss, okay, what activities can we do better, so that we can shorten the sales cycle. If you shorten the sales cycle by half, you close twice as much business and in the same amount of time. So velocity is a very key metric that a lot of people don't really pay that much attention to. But for folks that are really thinking through all this, yeah, focusing on velocity and seeing those the impact of changes that you're making, in your process, to have things go faster. It can have huge, enormous impact on the company.

Mike: I love that about velocity. And I mean, it's one of the things we talk about Napier and I think, you know, perhaps sales has been thinking about funnel velocity for a while, but but certainly marketing, I think it's kind of a new concept, isn't it that actually the faster you can move prospects through, the better it's going to be?

Bonnie: Yeah, I can't comment about how new that new that idea is. But certainly remembering that that's an important concept and an important way to help help your company. Yeah, that's a philosophy Sir, a key metric.

Mike: Sounds good. I mean that there's one other part of the product you've got that I'm interested about, you've got a product called matchmaker. What's that? What's that all about?

Bonnie: Yeah, so that's designed to solve a problem that lives in salesforce.com offerings, that helps our customers that are interested in Account Based Marketing. And basically, it allows leads that are in Salesforce to be tied to accounts in the box, Salesforce leads are separated from accounts. And so this, this particular product allows you to tie people or representatives leads to accounts. So you can do measurement prior to the opportunity creation.

Mike: No, I mean, that makes a lot of sense. You know, I know that Salesforce is very contact, or lead driven. And it's not really thinking about opportunity in terms of an account based funnel. So it makes a lot of sense that what you want to do is be able to think in that way. at that early stage, when you're first gathering contexts.

Bonnie: Yeah, and a full circle, what we do is we build a set set of software that basically creates a data model that allows you to do funnel metrics, whether it be person based, or account based, or all sorts of flexible attribution right inside that Salesforce platform.

Mike: I mean, that's awesome. I think one of the questions some people ask now, obviously, you know, full circle is targeting enterprise primarily, I mean, is there a solution for SMEs or an approach you'd recommend for smaller businesses that they could take and use?

Bonnie: This is an area that that I'm really interested in right now. Question is, how does a small business do what a big company does, and many, many small businesses use tools like, say MailChimp to send emails, and there's pretty good reporting inside there. But tying that to tying that to a pipeline and revenue and doing more sophisticated things, that requires other products. So I'm very actually very interested in building one of these, I think it'd be great actually build, build a new tool, a new small business marketing analytics tool that actually does the very sophisticated things that an enterprise class product would do. So anybody who wants to, to share their ideas with me, I'm eager to build one, you can just send me an email Bonnie at full circle insights.com.

Mike: That's awesome. I know, I know, there's a lot of small businesses going. Yeah, I'd love to know which bit of marketing budget I'm spending is actually working in which bit isn't. So that sounds great. Moving on. I mean, I feel I have to ask about AI at the moment. It's obviously the technology everyone's talking about. You mentioned earlier, and it's quite unusual. You said, you know, it's maths attribution is maths. Whereas I think, you know, lots of people like, why should be AI? You know, do you see AI coming in and changing what you do significantly? Or do you think it is more mass that is known and understood?

Bonnie: So AI is a topic that's been evolving for many, many years, the concept of, of making a computer really understand, and draw inferences and things like that, like people do. And there's certain cool advances that have been made over the last, say, 10 years. And it really boils down to your data, right? How good is the data? If you have poor information to draw inferences from? If you're human, or you're, or you're an AI machine, you're gonna draw the wrong inferences. So first of all, start with the data, making sure that that's as best as you can make it, no one's data is perfect, but give it a go. And then if you have enough data, so that's another bit of this is you have to have enough information to draw the draw the inferences that you want. A lot of AI in marketing is about, you know, next best action. So what should a marketing person or salesperson do when a potential prospect has taken certain actions? What should that be? And if you have enough data, you can identify patterns that are fairly specific, and you can do things like that. So that's very much where where we are right now. But it's for many B2B companies don't have enough data to really draw the kinds of inferences that you would want, B2C companies have lots and lots of data. So Well, we'll see how these how the algorithms play out. And whether we can be very successful at applying them to be to be

Mike: interesting. I mean, that's kind of a watch this space. And, you know, that leads on to one of the questions we'd like to ask all I guess, which is, you know, if you have a young person who comes to you and says they're interested in marketing, with all the potential change going on, would you say to them, you know, marketing is the place to be or would you say, Yeah, you know, it could be a tough industry, what would be your view? Oh, my,

Bonnie: my view is marketing is great. It's particularly good for folks that really want to use both sides of your brain, so your left side and your right side. And you also, if you also have a real need to have a lot of diversity, a lot of different kinds of things that you're doing every day. Marketing is a great job because The world is changing, the markets are changing, your products are changing, everything is always changing. And so there's a lot of new and fun things to work on. And if you need new and fun things, marketing is a great job.

Mike: So awesome. And then following on from that, you know, you've obviously had a really long successful career in marketing. But I'm interested in what's the best bit of advice you've ever been given about marketing?

Bonnie: You know, I think it really came a long, long time ago, and just kind of remembering the purpose of marketing. What is the purpose of marketing, if you're a B2B market, the purpose of marketing is to make your offering really easy to buy. And also make it easy to sell. So if you ever forget about what you're trying to do in your marketing job, that's a really good thing to remember. Just to go back to that very simple thing. Yes. Is this is what I'm doing making my offering easier to buy? And or is it also making it easier to sell?

Mike: I love that very simple, very good way to you know, focus on what you're trying to do. That's brilliant. Bonnie, I really appreciate your time. Is there anything you feel we should have covered that we haven't that you want to talk about?

Bonnie: Yeah, thanks for thanks for asking that question. So the the new hot thing is to do Account Based Marketing. And Account Based Marketing is awesome, because it helps you bring together companies, both sales and marketing, you know, talking from the same page. I think it's also important as as you're doing, if you're taking on this marketing analytics project, with your sales team, it's really important to make sure that your data is in one spot so that everybody has access to the same information. Oftentimes, disagreements arise, because sales team might be working from one set of data. And marketing has working from a separate set of data. But if you put all the data in one spot, and make sure that everyone has access, and you're transparent about the information, it facilitates Much, much tighter sales and marketing relationships and can make create great success for your company.

Mike: That's amazing advice. And I've actually I've certainly seen that where you've got two views of, of what's going on. So I love that. I really appreciate your time on the podcast, Bonnie, it's been great. I know you mentioned your email address before. But you know, if people want to contact you and find out more, either about full circle, or they want to partner with you to build a new product for SMEs, can you just remind people that the best way to contact you would be

Bonnie: Yeah, you can go to www.fullcircleinsights.com. Or if you have any great small business marketing analytics ideas, just send me an email Bonnie at full circle insights.com.

Mike: Bonnie, thank you very much. It's been a great conversation. I really appreciate it. Thank you, Mike. Thanks so much for listening to marketing B2B Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier B2B dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.


The Business That Story Built Podcast: Guest Mike Maynard

Christie Bilbrey, host of The Business That Story Built podcast recently sat down with Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier, for a conversation about how to ensure you target the right prospects and some of the ways to successfully do so.

Listen to the interview here: https://www.christiebilbrey.com/podcast/kscubuefnh6tqe82sm961lmzjqm25d


A Napier Podcast Interview with Farzad Rashidi - Respona

Farzad Rashidi, lead innovator at Respona, a link-building tool, discusses the origin of the business as an internal tool within the content creation platform Visme. He shares top tips for getting good quality backlinks and creating backlink campaigns that benefit both the requesting business and the providing business.

He also shares how to capitalise on current trends and discusses a successful campaign involving Game of Thrones that dramatically increased Respona's page rankings.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Farzad Rashidi - Respona

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Farzad Rashidi

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

Welcome to marketing B2B technology, the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Farzad Rashidi. Farzad founded and is now the lead innovator at Respona. Welcome to the podcast. Farzad,

Farzad: Thank you so much for having me, Mike.

Mike: So far said we'd like to start off by asking our guests how they got to where they are today. So can you tell us a little bit about your career journey?

Farzad: Sure. Thanks. So I started my career in marketing at a company called Visby. Have you heard of vids? Me, Mike before?

Mike: Yeah, absolutely. Their presentation tools company.

Farzad: That's right. Yeah. So it's an all in one visual content creation platform. For businesses. We came around the same time as Canva kind of went down the b2c market and they've now become a household name, we took a different approach focus a little bit more on the business side of things. So cater predominantly to SMB, and enterprise. And so I joined as a first marketing hire Bazmee. And we basically grew, the company completely bootstrapped to over 20 million active users. And the way we acquired all these customers and users has been predominantly through our content and SEO. So right now visit means website is getting close to about 4 million monthly organic traffic. And so lots of lots of trial and error to get there. However, what what was really key to kind of help skyrocket our traffic at this meeting was our Off Page promotion tactics, which basically helped us build relationships with relevant authoritative publications in our space. And those tactics were sort of done all over the place by manual work and spreadsheets and whatnot. So we put it together under one roof. And it was sort of an internal software for us for for a little while, and it just worked ridiculously well. And we decided to release it as a standalone product. So that's kind of the backstory of how we ended up with Respona.

Mike: And did respond to spin out as a separate company, or you will the same company,

Farzad: separate entities. However, we are self funded, in a way. So we are funded by Visby. They're technically our investor. But yes, we were kind of incubated out of there.

Mike: So it's pretty cool. So you did so well, with the first company, you were able to fund the second that sounds awesome. Thank you. So you talked about your off page SEO activities, and that was how you grew versus me. So Respona is basically that internal product you built that's now available to the public. So can you give me a you know, just a brief overview of what Respona does and what people would get if they subscribe to it? Sure,

Farzad: I mean, I don't mean this to be a plug for Respona. Most of us responded as really, you can do manually yourself. And that's actually what I recommend everyone to start, if you're not doing any sort of off page, promotion is better to always start manually and kind of get a proof of concept and see if this is something that works well in your niche. And if so then great. And our respondents kind of a gasoline, a floor on that fire and help scaling things without losing that personalised touch. And in that human touch. So kind of what our platform does is very simple. So from a technical perspective, you can find any website and it finds you the right people on those websites and helps you contact them with a personalised pitch, both through email and LinkedIn. So there's a bunch of different components to it. So today, you would normally have to purchase multiple different tools and conducted them together that respondent sort of brings together under one roof and automates a lot of dirty work and a lot of that, that tedious manual tasks that you can focus more on personalising the pitches and actually building relationships versus, you know, dealing with overhead. Now, as far as the use cases for the platform goes, just to kind of give you some examples, there's there's myriad of different ways in how we use this internally. And also different ways that customers find use cases for right. But predominantly, unless you produce a piece of linkable assets and, and you'd like to potentially get other publications to talk about and mention it, and then those backlinks and those mentions from those relevant publications, help your domain authority to go up and, and help that content piece kind of pass on that link equity to other pages in your websites. And now you start coming up in the search results for your own target keywords. So that process though, basically, just to kind of give you some examples, that there's one strategy, for example, what we call the podcast outreach strategy, and this is what I'm doing right now. Right?

So the way we found a you Mike and team got in touch with your team and found you and reached out was all through response. So responding, for example, helps you find people in your space that I've been on auto podcasts and And, and helps you weed out the podcasts and nobody listens to you and, and find you the right person in charge of that podcast gets you the contacts, all of that stuff is fully automated so that you can actually spend the time to do research on a podcast and say, Listen to feel the episode, see if this is the type of podcasts that we can come and add value to, and then reach out to the right person. And basically ask them if they'd be open to hosting a guest because now at that point, we have a pretty clear understanding of what the podcast is audiences and what they're interested in. And then we come on to the show to help the podcast hosts create an episode, but at the same time, we get indirect awareness for our brand. And also at the same time you kind of chopped this episode into no other blog posts or the types of content or repurpose them. So that also gives us a mention or a backlink from your own website. And that, you know, it's a vote of popularity and other search engines. So that's one out of a myriad of other different tactics and strategies that respond to help sweat.

Mike: So that's such a really interesting answer. I mean, we were out guesting on podcasts as well. And it was really interesting, because we found that our SEO was improving. When we started guessing on podcasts, we had no idea why it was improving. And eventually we dug in, we found out what all the new backlinks were. And most of them were driven by podcasts. So I think that's really interesting. A lot of people are excited about podcasts. But there's more benefits than just appearing on the podcast.

Farzad: Exactly. And you know, obviously, it's not to say we're only here, Mike just cannot get a backlink from your website, that that's just a simplistic answer. Obviously, there's myriads of benefits. Number one, for me, at least, the reason why I spend an hour of my time is because I want to meet smart people in our industry, like yourself, building these relationships. And also at the same time, you know, that's advertising to a niche audience helping you create that content piece. So it's a mutually beneficial collaboration that happens. And that's the type of approach that we take when it comes to any sort of outreach tactic, right? They know that, for example, we applied that also to digital PR, which is I know, it's one of your expertise as well as your agency. So like, the way we go about kind of average is a little different than most people were that basically just span the world and kind of hope for the best. It's like very highly mutually collaborative type of approach that we take when it comes to average.

Mike: So I think, you know, a lot of people here, even if they're not SEO professionals, they understand that the more backlinks you get the high quality backlinks, the better your ranking, and Google is one of one of the factors, not obviously the only one. But it seems to be that Link building is is a real problem. And it's kind of got tarred with this reputation of being a bit sleazy sometimes, so I'm really interested to know, you know, why is it such a problem for SEO to build those links.

Farzad: So it's just because it's new. So if you think about like, in the early 2000s, when sales outreach became a thing, like outbound, I know. And then people discovered email, as a broached when it comes to prospecting. Everyone just started blasting emails to everyone, and it was quite spamming. And now fast forward two decades later, now, it's a much more sophisticated type approach, where now the account executives that reach out to you know your dog's name, and, you know, they actually are reaching out with, with a clear value prop, and it's working for some of the companies, not something we're good at at all. But you know, it's working for some companies in some certain industries, when it comes to Link building is just because I feel like that's my personal opinion. It's just, it's simply new. It's become a thing recently in the past few years. And marketers don't really know what they're doing yet. They're still discovering it. So what what happens when you don't know what you're doing is that you kind of resort to simplistic tactics like, Hey, let me just send an email to 1000 people and ask them for a backlink. See what happens. And 99.9% of cases is that answer dot question is nothing, nothing is going to happen. So wasted time, you just wasted your time. So I think over time marketers kind of kind of learn sort of what, what strategies work. And a lot of it has to do with adding value, right? So you don't want to ask people to do something for you. You add value and create value together. And the sort of mutual benefit of collaboration is sort of what we're advocating for. And that's something that respond facilitates.

Mike: That's really interesting. See, you mentioned, you know, that there's a few ways to build those, those mutually beneficial partnerships. So, I mean, it sounds like you believe Link building is not just something that should sit in, in the SEO professionals role, but actually, other people, you know, for example, PR, should be thinking about the impact on SEO, of what they're doing. I mean, you want to talk a little bit about that,

Farzad: Of course, and, you know, I can I can talk some examples. I feel like it's a lot more helpful than just talking in hypotheticals. So when it comes to link building, the way we define it again, I I hate that term, even though that's kind of what our industry is just because so much negative connotations involved with it. And the UK, you folks call it digital PR, and that I like the sound of that more. But as far as the strategy goes, still comes down to the very basics. So one of the biggest mistakes a lot of folks make when it comes to average, that they try to build links to sales pages and like pages that they want to come up in the search results, right. That's the number one thing people think about when it comes to link building. And like, Okay, I built this landing page of my services page, and I want it to come up in the search results. So let's go see if I can build links to it. And that's just the wrong approach because nobody wants to mention and genuinely talk about a sales page. Right? So let me let me give you an example. One of the very successful campaigns are ran at visit me was right before the last season of Game of Thrones came out. Have you watched Game of Thrones, Mike,

Mike: Do you know what falls out? I've not watched Game of Thrones. I think I'm the only person on the planet. Oh, come on,

Farzad: Mike. All right, you got some catching up to do. But anyhow. So before the last season, the cable firms came out. Everyone's talking about Oh, who's gonna win the game of thrones. Yeah, yada, yada. And so this means the data is tool that's one of the unique features that they know helps to create really cool data visualisations. So what we did was just take the data from a betting website of what characters people were betting on winning the game of thrones. And, and put it together in this blog post that we talked about, okay, here's like when we predict or who the public predicts, to be that to be the winner. And what we did then, was that we fired up response. And then we looked up all the latest news articles that were published on the Game of Thrones. And it's something they don't normally traditionally do with a PR database, right? Because it's not a traditional industry, you don't reach out to anybody who's interested in movies, right? So we want it to be very targeted towards people who had just covered like, earlier today, published an article on like a character and give us a response to helps you find those contacts with the author. And that gets through the contact information. And then we reach reached out and say, Hey, Mike, and I just found your article on Forbes about Game of Thrones. And we just put together a really cool DataViz, on whom the public is picking to be the winner. And that brought in by 60 or so press mentions that just one campaign to that content piece. Now, you must say doesn't have any business value? No, absolutely not. Because, yes, those press mentions are not necessarily something that we're directly selling, right? We're not in the movie business. However, those mentions to our website, are a voucher of popular vote to popularity, nice photo searching. And so what we call link equity, which is means basically how much popularity you have gets passed on to other pages on our website. So now our data visualisation software landing page is ranking number one, because of the amount of credibility we built for our website in those topics. So this is not to say this is the one sites you know, everybody should go create DataViz on. The reason why we did that is because we are in the data was business, right? So there's a myriad of different ways on how you can go about this. But I just wanted to kind of paint a picture of an example of a type of campaign that we ran, specifically when it comes to digital PR.

Mike: So that's really interesting, because I know, when it comes to the links that come in, the more relevant the site the links to that, that's also good. So what you were looking to do was, was pitch this story ostensibly about Game of Thrones, but pitch it into articles that talked about data visualisation. And so you've got that credibility for being a database product through the content of the story. Is that Is that what you're trying to do?

Farzad: Yes. And it's not to say this is all we do, right? So we actually do those and batches anytime it would make sense. On a more granular basis, anytime we put out a linkable asset, or any sort of pieces of content that add some value in terms of education. We have other strategies that we follow, for example, we can understand, okay, what are some of the older pages on that topic that have been published? Dad, obviously, we've created a far superior piece of content so we can see, okay, where else they have been mentioned. And so that normally gives you a lot more relevant, you know, websites that are not necessarily news publications, but other websites that we could potentially reach out to, and again, start a collaboration with them to either give us an addition or replacement. And again, I'm just going through different types of strategies. Each one has a different specific purpose. And that's been one of the main challenges. That response has been customer education, right to kind of teach people how to do these things the right way. And so we kind of had to incorporate a lot of these education into the product as well. So now when the users go in there, we don't just put them into this blank canvas and we're like, okay, you should To start your campaign, we'll give you like specific strategies you can click into and kind of walk the user through that different strategies to kind of help kind of do some hand holding to get put them on the right track.

Mike: So that sounds like you're aiming this product, you know, almost open up access to this, this part of off page SEO, to people who actually aren't SEO experts. Is that is that one of your goals?

Farzad: Absolutely, yes. And we don't actually require folks to be an SEO expert to do any sort of promotion. Because when it comes to getting other folks to talk about users, there's several benefits to it. Other than just the backlink you get to your website, for example, one of the first strategies we ever ran for respond to, and actually nothing to do with our SEO, what we did using our own platform was to reach out to other blog post I had listed, for example, what are some of the best tools for link building or some of the best outreach tools? What are some of the best PR tools and secured mentioned in those listicles that basically would potentially drive referral traffic? So the goal of that campaign was actually tirely? Independent of right SEO? Does it help with our domain rating? Absolutely. Because, you know, there's a website talking about us. But that's kind of an indirect benefit that happens after the primary goal. So, you know, these sort of tactics, I think any business has to do, like, even if you, for example, you're in commerce, like we have lots of online stores, they use responded like, for example, one of them. And that was quite interesting, it's quite eccentric was was a CBD gummy company that basically sell like CBD gummies, that just became legal in the US. So they can't do any sort of advertising, Facebook or Instagram. So what they do is basically reach out to other news publications, blog posts that have elicited similar products or whatnot, and trying to send them a free product to get themselves mentioned on there. So again, every day, I find, you know, different use cases, different type of ways and how folks try to make it work. But yes, that's kind of the gist of it. So it's far beyond the scope of SEO.

Mike: I mean, that's an interesting range of customers you've gotten and so you know, markets, I mean, presumably, off page SEO, SEO link building, I mean, that's something that applies to almost any company can benefit from that.

Farzad: Yes, but when it comes to developing a marketing strategy, you can't say we developed this platform for all businesses of all kinds, right? It's just a big mistake. So we had to kind of narrow down our focus on some of the more tech savvy customers that were, they were aware of what Link building is and what they were doing normally themselves manually. So we get to target market we picked to start with the market to again, the product could be used in different ways. But that from a marketing standpoint, where we developed, our messaging was mainly targeted towards marketing agencies, because first of all, you guys are doing this on a daily so and you normally do it at a larger scale, because you're managing dozens of clients. So normally, these are higher value customers for us, because you're gonna stick around for a long run and also, ideally purchase the higher tier plan. And also other software companies, SAS companies that in already had a content team that already have an SEO person, they already know what they're doing. So it's very easy for them to get the value of the platform, not ecommerce bloggers, publications, we have a small percentage of our customers that are from those areas, and they get a lot of value from it. But obviously, you know, we have to kind of pick our battles when it comes to messaging. So those were the two target markets we pay.

Mike: That's interesting. So looking at the people who, you know, obviously everyone could benefit, but you're really focusing down on who's going to get the maximum benefit from that platform is a great bit of marketing in terms of identifying the target market by value and love that. Thank you. I just need to move on. I mean, it's a question. I think at the moment, everybody's got to ask, and that's that's the AI question. There's obviously a lot of hype around AI and particularly, where people are using Respona to reach out to people, you know, I think there's obviously opportunity for generative AI for for emails. I mean, what are you doing around AI? And what do you think the future is for AI in marketing?

Farzad: You know, it's interesting, bring this out, Mike, because we're actually in the development process. Now. I think it may sound like it's tech ro. saying these things, but I think AI is definitely going to revolutionise the way businesses do business. And it's something that's applicable to all sorts of industries, not just software, but law like lawyers, I don't know, real estate agents, all sorts of businesses are going to be impacted sooner, sooner or later. And any company that doesn't keep themselves updated is at a risk of becoming obsolete. So, as far as response goes, there are several stages of phases that we've planned phase one is going to be kind of creating that messaging. So, you know, generative AI has become pretty good at creating very engaging emails and pitches based on campaign objectives, obviously got to train it, modify it. And we have a mass amount of data available to us in terms of what are some of the best practices, what are some of the best type messaging to work best. And so helping other customers kind of getting to that level without having to hire you know, or contact manager or whatnot. And also from second phase perspective is in terms of personalization. So, we actually already utilised a good amount of artificial intelligence in the background of respondents. Like, for example, we have an article summarizer feature where it would actually read the article and summarises the piece, so that you can take that information and personalise your messaging, that process of personalising your message is right now manual. So next phase of our products kind of go live this quarter is automating data as well. So not only it will go and reads the article, and also knows the author and Li reads their LinkedIn URL. So now we have information about the person, we have a lot of information about the content that you have written, and we already have a pit. So it's quite easy to combine this together and create a highly personalised pitch without having human involvement. And so that's something that's coming next and that we're very excited about. So what's going to happen after is predominantly going to be in terms of putting together these campaigns in the first place, right? So right now respond has a lot of automation that helps you kind of go through these campaigns pretty quickly. But coming up with those campaign ideas, and having those done in the first place, is something that a human has to do. And I don't think that's required. So the next phase of that will probably be actually helping you automate a lot of that. So you kind of plug and play your website and help respond to kind of take care of the rest. So that's kind of the direction we're heading to, obviously. And are we going to have to play it step by step?

Mike: And do you think this is going to be a positive thing? Because, you know, I think one of the things a lot of people are concerned about is once AI is being widely used to generate emails, that the volume of marketing emails can be almost unmanageable to deal with the inbound emails you get.

Farzad: Right? Absolutely. And I think there's going to be solutions to help you manage your inbox after they're already sent out there. So yes, you have to kind of go back to the beginning of the interview where I mentioned, when we conduct average, we're creating value. We're not just asking people to do something for us. So what well, we facilitate with respondents is these mutually beneficial collaborations, for example of kind of going back to that podcast, interview, podcast hosts are on the hunt for good guests. And they welcome good guests to come on to the podcast. So if respondent helps you find those podcasts that are a perfect fit and reaches out to them, and actually does the research to know that there's a fit and sends you a personalised pitch. This is something from a podcast host perspective, you get three or four different pitches, good pitches from suitable guests, that's something that you would welcome because then now you have a pool of candidates of interviewees that you can pick from, right. So it's not to say that this is going to necessarily spam your inbox, but also just putting better guests in front of you from that perspective. So, you know, the way I would look at it is as long as it's done for good, it's never a bad idea to do more good. If that makes sense.

Mike: Now, it makes a lot of sense that he's certainly work with us. I mean, we turn down the vast majority of pitches we get for guests on our podcast. So whatever you you did through a spoon, it definitely worked for us. So that's great. I'm interested. No, I mean, I'm aware of your time. And when there's a couple of questions, we'd like to ask people. So I'm really interested to know, if you're talking to a young person today, would you say marketing's a career to go into? Or would you advise them to maybe look elsewhere?

Farzad: That is a very great question. I think it comes down to what you're good at, right? Because marketing could be a great field to be in if you're, if that's something that you're passionate about, and you really like as cheesy as it sounds. And it could be a horrible for a person that may not necessarily like the nuances that goes into it. So if a young person is listening to this, I would say do look at what you're doing your free time and see what you do for free that you it's not for work, it's not for money, you do it out of your own entertainment. And it could be sports, it could be, you know, it could be whatever that you do and see if that's the type of area he tend to look at as a career. So that's what I would leave with that.

Mike: I think that's great advice. I love that. And we also like to steal a few good ideas from our guests as well. So I'm interested to know what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Farzad: That there's no one size fits all strategy. You know, when I started my career, I was looking at other companies and how they were doing their marketing. And I would try to copy a lot of his ideas and they'll most of them didn't turn out to bear any fruit even though it worked for another business. So instead of kind of focusing on what other companies are doing, what really worked for us has been kind of talking to our customers understanding how they come across a solution like ours. And having that face to face interaction really directs a lot of our marketing strategy. So I guess that that would be something I would say is that I wish I knew this sooner that instead of looking at Laura's kind of look, and works when it comes to marketing,

Mike: I love that. And that's also a great way to get more creativity into marketing, which I think is a real positive thing. Absolutely. So far, so thank you so much for being on the podcast. I'm sure. There's a lot of people that would like to, you know, maybe ask questions or just learn more about Respona. So, what's the best place for them to go to either contact you or find out about Respona?

Farzad: Well, my name is Farzad Rashidi aren't a whole lot of us out there. So I stick out like a sore thumb on LinkedIn. The best, best way to get a hold of me is just to look up my name on LinkedIn.

Mike: That's awesome Farzad. Thanks so much for being a guest and sharing your insights. I really appreciate it.

Farzad: It's my pleasure. Thank you so much for having me, Mike.

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.