Is your data safe? HubSpot's Hack Creates Concerns

HubSpot’s recent data hack raises serious questions about the safety and security of our data. Mike and Hannah discuss the implications of this data breach and explore what it could mean for both marketers and businesses.

They also talk about the latest updates from Salesforce’s Summer 24 release, share their insights on effective strategies for lead conversion, and discuss the considerations marketers should keep in mind when deciding between marketing automation platforms and dedicated social media scheduling platforms.

Catch up with Napier’s latest on-demand webinar “Segmentation Secrets: 9 Ways to Target the Right Audience”:

Acton Webinar “Crafting A Modern Love Lead Story: Strategies for Effective Lead to Pipeline Conversion”:

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

[00:53.4] – Mike and Hannah discuss the recent HubSpot hack and what this could mean for marketers.

[04:34.6] – Hannah talks about Salesforce’s Summer 24 releases, including the Einstein AI tool and their new large language model.

[10:17.6] – Mike and Hannah talk about a recent Acton webinar and strategies for lead conversion.

[13:13.1] – Insightful tip of the week: should marketers use their marketing automation for social media scheduling and analytics?

Follow Mike and Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode 17 – Is your data safe? HubSpot's Hack Creates Concerns

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Wherly

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 Podcast. I'm Hannah Wehrly

Mike: and I’m Mike Maynard

Hannah: and today we talk about the HubSpot data hack.

Mike: I moan about the name of a new Salesforce feature,

Hannah:  we discuss act on the modern lead story webinar.

Mike: And finally, Hannah comes up with some great advice about using marketing automation platforms to post on social media.

Hannah:  Hi, Mike, welcome back to another episode of the market automation moment podcast. How you doing? It's been a while since we chatted.

Mike: It's great to chat to you again. I mean, obviously, we're a little quieter with the podcast during the summer when this is happening. But I think actually, we got some interesting news this week.

Hannah: We absolutely do, Mike. And I'm going to dive straight in because we had an interesting bit of news come from HubSpot. And that's that someone has attempted to hack their data. Now this is major because a big part of my automation platform is that your data is safe. You know everything sits on there. Should we as marketers be worried that our data isn't as safe as they claim it to be?

Mike: Well, I think we should be worried. And I'm not sure if you're aware. This is not the first time HubSpot has been hacked a couple of years ago, there was a hack that targeted cryptocurrency clients of HubSpot. Oh, I wasn't aware of that. So I think we should be concerned. And there's a couple of reasons of concern. I mean, I think it's fair to say that in terms of IT security, someone like a HubSpot is probably better than most of us marketers. But the problem is, is there's so many people who can then get access into the data and particularly with HubSpot, because they have a very interactive approach to their customers. And they're very supportive. They quite often have multiple internal HubSpot people with access to data. So I think that's got to be a bit of a concern. Hopefully, they're going to be much more secure than any of us marketers would be, but in reality, they're a much bigger target as well, because you gain access to multiple accounts.

Hannah: I think that's such a stark reminder, Mike about how vulnerable our data is. And I have to say, as well as a little bit disappointed, because I actually read the news first on TechCrunch. And they actually stated that until TechCrunch reached out to them. They hadn't actually addressed that this was going on in HubSpot, you know, externally. And it's a bit disappointing. Because if this is happening, then you also want to be aware.

Mike: I think absolutely. I mean, there were rumors on Twitter, I think prior to the TechCrunch article, let's be generous. And let's hope that actually what was happening was HubSpot was really focused on working with the companies that were affected, and trying to mitigate any effects before they spent time talking about it publicly. But I agree. I mean, I think openness is really important. You know, and it's gonna worry, I think anyone who's using the cloud, when we hear these stories, it does bring home the vulnerabilities.

Hannah: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, has this changed your opinion on the cloud? Mike, do you use it?

Mike: Well, I don't think it has. And I think, you know, it's frustrating. It's annoying, you know, the vendors should be the gold standard in terms of security. But the reality is, is that, you know, if we were all running our own market automation platforms and our own servers, we'd almost certainly be less good at security. So I think we've got to accept it's a risk, I think we've got to be aware of it and concerned. But equally, you know, I think cloud still offers the best and probably the most secure solution for almost anybody in the industry. So for us marketers, I don't think we should be changing our behavior. But obviously, you know, we should be looking. And hopefully HubSpot now is going to introduce things that are going to stop them being hacked in the future. And I think that's a really important thing for them to learn lessons. Absolutely.

Hannah: And hopefully, they'll share something externally soon. But you know, perhaps inside internally and with their customers, they've really worked on how they're going to make sure it doesn't happen again. So we're definitely given the benefit the doubt, but I think it's definitely a bit of a wake up call at the same time.

Mike: It is and you know, you always wonder whether there's been other hacks and other vendors We've not heard about. So, you know, this transparency, I think is really important. So everyone knows what's happening. And hopefully, what we're seeing is one unlucky isolated incident, rather than something that's going to be a trend.

Hannah: Definitely. Well, I want to move on to something a bit more positive now and that's Salesforce because Salesforce have actually just announced their summer 24 releases. So they've announced a lot we won't go through every feature, but there's a few that are, you know, have gone live in June. There's some going live in July, some going live in August, but there's a couple that really stood out to me. I mean, one is ramping up on AI. I mean, this is no surprise. We've talked about my love for Einstein, the Thor, we've talked about it many times. This is the the one feature that they really push in. But what I really liked about it is that they've announced the release of large language models. And this is going to allow them to show the marketing team topics that are being brought up with the sales. So it's helping that alignment is helping these marketing emails actually match what the sales teams are talking about. And I loved that as a feature. I think that's going to be so helpful. Moving forward, what do you think?

Mike: I think it's something that a lot of sales teams have really wanted is, you know, being able to look over a large sales team and see what people are talking about. I think that the question is going to be, how easy is it to actually take that information, and use it to make your marketing more effective. I think, for example, if you look across most sales teams, at some point, there'll be issues about price. And you know, lots and lots of customers will talk about price, we know that we don't need a large language model to troll masses of emails to find that out. So it's going to be the little nifty things, the things you don't expect, where I think it really going to add the value. But you know, be interesting to see people who use it, and how effective it is in terms of bridging the gap between, frankly, a marketing team that doesn't really know what the customers are talking about. And the customers may be, you know, whilst AI is a great solution, perhaps another solution is to help the marketing team understand the customers better. Absolutely,

Hannah: Mike, and I think it offers opportunities. You know, you talked about pricing there. And that's maybe an obvious one. But I think it gives marketers the chance to look at that and say, okay, look, pricing is really common at this stage of the funnel at this stage of the funnel, we need to put an offer in, we need to give some discount, we need to help you close this sale. And I think that will be interesting to help marketers maybe think of things they hadn't thought about before. Because if they don't know it's a challenge for the sales team, then they haven't been helping them. But having that data, I mean, I'm always biased. I'm a marketer. I'm like, give all the information. But I can just see maybe some solutions and some ideas market has been a bit more creative with having this data available to them.

Mike: I think you said something incredibly smart by hand. Because, you know, I was saying everybody knows that at some point, price becomes an issue. I think what you're telling me is that quite often we don't know exactly what stage of the customer journey, the customer thinks about price, those large language models can potentially start predicting, when customers are likely to raise price and let you address it before the customer even starts talking about it. That's that's absolutely a brilliant point. And I love that.

Hannah: I'm excited to see where it goes. I mean, another feature I want to talk about, and we won't focus on the name too much, Mike, because I know you're not a fan. But it is the waterfall segments. And this is also really great, you know, we're talking about offers. And the waterfall segment really allows automations to be built that will provide one offer to the right customer at the right time. Now, I think it's an interesting concept. But what are your views on it?

Mike: Well, I don't like the name. But that's a different issue. I think, you know, one of the interesting things that Salesforce is doing is it's saying if you've got multiple offers, it'll guarantee that each contact only gets one. I mean, I can see the benefits of that. But equally when you're looking at you thinking maybe people haven't segmented their database really well, if there's big overlaps between different segments, what's going on there, it seems like something that's fairly easy in terms of technology to build, I wonder whether marketers should be in a position where they need all of that technology being built.

Hannah: That is a fantastic point, Mike. And I wouldn't forgive myself if I didn't do a plug for our own webinar right now. But if you're listening, we have actually just done a webinar on nine ways to submit your data. So if this is something that you're struggling with, we'll put it in the show notes. And please check it out. Because Mike actually covered some fantastic points of, of ways to segment your data and be more effective. And to go back to your point, Mike, I think that's so valued, because why is it needed? And how are they not segmenting your data? And maybe it's something that we need to have a little bit of a look into.

Mike: Salesforce will probably argue it's making life easier for the marketer. And that's true, you know, it's making it simpler, but it kind of feels a bit like it's papering over the cracks of a poorly segmented database, rather than necessarily really being a feature that we should all be wanting to use.

Hannah: Yeah, and arguably, as well, you know, we've discussed dynamic emails in the past and you know, we've used dynamic email for clients to already personalized offers. So Could also be argued if it's actually offering anything new that wasn't available already.

Mike: Exactly, I think I think it's all to be seen, it's obviously, you know, only being piloted at the moment. And I'm sure we're not only seeing Salesforce, but also in other marketing automation platforms going forward as well.

Hannah: Absolutely. Moving on, Mike, I want to switch gears and I want to talk about an axon webinar. Now, I love to this webinar and the way they marketed it. And I love a cliche, and I'm always a little bit cheesy. And they marked it as the modern not love story, but the modern lead story. And it's all about getting an effective strategy in place for lead conversion. So you go from lead conversion to your pipeline. And they basically walk through a six stage step of how you could do that. What I quite liked about it is, you know, this seems to be a topic of the podcast today is that it was very sales focused. So it's very more, not the core marketing, but how marketing can help sales to go. And they talked about a couple of cool things. But they talked about, you know, there's a marketing qualified lead, but they don't actually look at that they're looking at goals for each stage. And that's something that we do as well, you know, everyone has a customer journey. And I think getting KPIs for each stage of this customer journey is something that's maybe overlooked. What do you think?

Mike: Well, you sent this to me, and I'd have to say, I think you've found a really useful, interesting webinar. I think what the webinar does by splitting it into the steps other than giving a framework and we all like a good six step or four step processes, as we have at Napier, it definitely helps things. But what they're trying to do is they're actually trying to avoid a really a direct linear path. And they're trying to say there's different stages. And I particularly liked when they talked about, you know, things like engage when they talk about surrounding your contacts, with content from all sorts of different channels. And to me, I think what they've done is they've really tried to say, it's not three emails, and it's done, which is that you know, the classic kind of marketing automation, email, step by step process, it's much more complicated that you can break it up into these simple categories. I really enjoyed it. I agree. And I think their focus on, you know, business outcomes, so things that move the needle in terms of sales, rather than, you know, a blind focus on an artificial metric like MQL. Again, as you say, they made really great points around that.

Hannah: I think, you know, just building on that, Mike, one of the things they said was speaking to the sales team, so actually having conversations and getting feedback that way, have it in a conversation, rather than just doing it based on the system. And I think often when we have this technology in front of us, we forget sometimes the most basic human conversations that will go a long way to making a difference. Absolutely.

Mike: Although the one thing with the webinar, I did think was they qualified for cheese's slide of the year with their slide for the marketing sales handoff, but we'll leave that for people to go and have a look at. And I'm sure the link will be in the show notes.

Hannah: Absolutely. We're coming up to the end of our time for the podcast. And I want to end on our insightful Tip of the Week. Now, this isn't something that we've talked about before. But Mark automation platforms have different capabilities. And some of them not all of them, but most of them have the capability to track post and do analytics of your social media posts. Now, my question is, should people should marketers be using his mouth animation platforms for the social media capabilities? Or should they be sticking with the tools that they're perhaps using already? So platforms like amplify are, you know, we use amplifier and APR, or perhaps something like HootSuite? I really think it depends on the monitor automation capabilities of what you can do. But what do you think?

Mike: So I think you've got a really great question there. And as you know, I've written a few blogs recently for, talking about the difficulty of sharing data between platforms. So to me, you know, one of the biggest challenges is where do you need the data you're going to generate. So if you need that in your marketing automation platform to trigger further campaigns, then using the marketing automation platform, probably is the right thing to do, because you're gathering data you're gonna use. In reality, though, a lot of people when they're running social, they're not gathering data necessarily that they use in marketing automation. And then maybe the answer is, you know, perhaps, and amplify is a better platform, because it will give you much more detailed analytics, and it will help you really build your social presence. So you've got two things there, you know, are you going to move outside of social with the next step of the campaign and pull data from that social campaign? Or is it really all about focusing on building your social presence? Now I'm sure a lot of people are sat there and probably you Hana thinking, well, we want to do both. And of course, we do really want to do both. But at the end of the day, you've got to pick one. And I think the thing that drives the selection should as much be the data, as it should be the feature the package, what do you think?

Hannah: I think that's such a good point, Mike. And I would argue as well, that it comes down to how big you want your Mar tech stack to be, you know, marketers can fall into the trap that they have all these different platforms. And so my advice would be is check out what your mark automation platform can do. See what analytics you can pull, find out if it is the right fit for you. If it isn't, if it not gonna provide what you need to present to the board, what you want to track to know that you're being successful, then look at platforms outside of the market automation. But the ideal scenario really, for me personally, my point of view is that you want it all in one place. And so if you can do that you can save money where you don't have to invest in another platform, then do but I think it will be on a case by case basis.

Mike: I think that's really insightful, Hannah. And you know, as everyone who listens to the podcast regularly knows, you're the one who does all the work here. And he really are the experts. So I think that's great advice.

Hannah: Brilliant. Well, thanks so much for another chat night. It's been great.

Mike: It's been great to talk to you and thank you for all your insights, Hannah.

Hannah: Thanks for listening to the Marketing Automation Moment podcast.

Mike: Don't forget to subscribe on your favorite podcast application. And we'll see you next time.

A Napier Podcast Interview with Andrus Purde - Outfunnel

Andrus Purde, Co-Founder and CEO of Outfunnel, an integration platform, discusses the importance of sharing data between marketing and sales teams and the challenges businesses face when their tools don't communicate effectively.

About Outfunnel

Outfunnel is an integration platform that makes it easy to connect sales and marketing tools, keep customer data in sync across the MarTech stack, and record all marketing engagement in the CRM.

About Andrus Purde

Andrus Purde is Co-Founder, CEO and ‘recovering marketer’ at Outfunnel. Andrus founded the integration platform in 2017 following a career in marketing, including positions at Pipedrive and Skype.


Time Stamps

[00:01:0] - Andrus introduces himself and talks about his marketing career before starting Outfunnel.

[00:03:2] - Andrus discusses Estonia as a great place for startups and the benefits of being based there.

[00:06:0] - Importance of Two-Way Data Sync: Andrus explains the significance of syncing data both ways between CRM and marketing tools.

[00:10:3] - Andrus talks about the popular integrations and connections made using Outfunnel.

[00:14:0] - Andrus discusses the strategies used to promote Outfunnel.

[00:18:3] - Andrus shares the best marketing advice he has received.

[00:21:4] - Andrus's contact details.


“Some companies operate years, or forever, with data in isolation… marketers and salespeople who are doing the work... they shouldn't worry about how the tools have been sourced in their company. They should just have access to the data.” Andrus Purde, Co-Founder and CEO at Outfunnel

Follow Andrus:

Andrus Purde on LinkedIn:

Outfunnel website:

Outfunnel on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Interview with Andrus Purde - Outfunnel

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Andrus Purde

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. I'm Mike Maynard and today I'm talking to Andrus Purde. Andrus is the Co-Founder and CEO of Outfunnel. Welcome to the podcast.

Andrus: Hey Mike, thank you for having me. I think as to my title, I think I can also call myself a recovering marketer. I've been in marketing all my life before co-founding and leading Outfunnel, and I think it's something I will never get out of whether I want to or not.

Mike: That's an interesting position, recovering marketer. I mean, maybe just to start off, you could give us a little bit of background about your marketing career and what you did before you started Outfunnel.

Andrus: So I was in non-tech, traditional marketing before in my early career. I worked at the newspaper, fast food and consumer goods consulting. And then at some point I realized I'm doing the same job over and over again until the baby grass is greener on this other side, which is technology, which had started to take off already. And so I joined Sky pretty early and then worked in product marketing at Sky here in Tallinn, where I'm from, and also in London. Then got involved with a more unknown startup called Pipetribe back when they were getting started and spent seven years there as a first marketer and then first head of marketing. And then co-founded Aftelet and I've been working on it for more than six years now.

Mike: That's fantastic. And I'll talk about out front in a second. But you mentioned you're based in Estonia. You know, how's that as a place to base a startup? Is it a great place with a good startup scene? Or do you wish you'd gone to Silicon Valley?

Andrus: It's a great place for building a company because the weather is usually so bad that you're inclined to stay indoors and work on your startup. Also, I think the startup scene here, the technology scene here is pretty good now. 15 years ago, I would have had to move to either Valley or maybe Boston or London, or depending on what the company was doing. But right now, I think you can, especially after COVID and all this remote thing, you can work everywhere. And the startup scene, both in terms of A company started and tech talent and investments in Estonia is very good. I think we are probably the best or the top of the list in Europe, if not the world.

Mike: That's fantastic and it's very positive to hear that in Europe there are these startup hubs that are really growing and developing and clearly Estonia is one of them.

Andrus: Yeah, it's all related to the weather.

Mike: I think by that logic, the British should also be amazing at startups as well, because we've not had great weather.

Andrus: I think the British summers can be pretty long and pretty warm. So if you ever want to complain about the weather, come up north, come to Estonia, and let's check out our winters.

Mike: I'll definitely do that at some point. It's one of the countries I've wanted to visit and never been to. So I will definitely come and see you.

Anyway, Andrus, going back to Outfunnel, you know, you're working with Pipedrive. I think if anyone's in a small business, in a marketing or sales function, they'd absolutely know Pipedrive. Maybe some of our enterprise listeners might not be so familiar. But you're working there, and then you decided that you wanted to go and start Outfunnel. So what drove you to want to create Outfunnel, and what problem was it solving?

Andrus: So I think two answers to that. First answer is boredom. So I had been a tech marketer for quite a while, and I had this itch of perhaps wanting to try something on my own, to break out of this marketer job title and be an entrepreneur. And second is that working with Pipetribe customers, and I think a good marketer has to work closely with customers. I noticed that the companies, small businesses were loving the sales software that we were offering, but they were finding it hard to connect marketing tools and the workflows to Pipetribe. And then my wish to try something else, and then the need which I saw exist in the market emerged into a project first like a research project and then a small minimal viable product and then a company around it.

Mike: That's fantastic and I don't think that it's users of pipe drive that are alone in the problem of syncing marketing and sales data. I mean why do you think it's such a problem to get that data together?

Andrus: Because they usually exist in different tools, at least for many non-enterprise customers, even maybe for enterprise customers if you look at the size of the data-syncing market. Usually driving revenue happens in collaboration between the sales team and the marketing team. And sometimes there's a chief revenue officer who's leading it, but oftentimes there's a sales leader, the marketing leader, and they want to do what's best for their team because that's the best thing usually for the company. And they pick their stack, their tools. And if a sales director or sales VP picks something like HubSpot as their CRM and the marketing VP pick something like ImageImp as their main tool, then these tools don't talk to each other natively. There are some integrations, some of them even pretty good ones offered by the vendors themselves, but it's very hard to get the tools to work in order for the teams to be able to work together. So there's usually some one-way data syncs available, but if you want the tools to sync up two-way, you need to look for a specialist integration. Building it on your own as a custom integration or using one of the integration platforms out from the list is just one of the options.

Mike: And that's interesting, you talk about this important difference between a one-way sync and a two-way sync. So in your experience, what do you get from syncing both ways, so to and from the CRM, as opposed to just sending data to the CRM?

Andrus: That depends really on the type of company and how their sales and marketing operations have been set up. Some companies operate years or forever with data in isolation. So the marketing team doesn't have access to the same data the sales team has. Or only one person maybe in the marketing team has access to the sales data and vice versa. So even thinking one way is a step forward and it helps sales and marketing teams work together better. Marketers and salespeople who are doing the work, they shouldn't worry about how the tools have been sourced in their company. They should just have access to the data. They need to do their job. They shouldn't do manual work. And also the leads on the receiving end shouldn't be receiving messages from a company that are completely irrelevant to what they have purchased or been interested in before.

Mike: I'm interested because, you know, you've talked specifically about marketing and sales data. Outfunnel, I guess, is continually developing and it's already starting to add data from other sources, so obviously form, fill data, but also you've even got some ad integration with Facebook. Is that something you see Outfunnel growing into, more of an integration across all sorts of marketing and sales tools?

Andrus: Definitely, I mean, because I think one of the benefits of using a big platform such as HubSpot, who offers both the CRM and marketing automation tool, and also a website CMS tool with forms. One of the major benefits is that all the data is synced up. Salespeople know where a lead has come from, which campaign or source to have they engaged with emails, what emails have they engaged with, et cetera. So clearly there's good reasons to have all the data synced up in one place. But then the slight, or actually not too slight, downside is that it can cost an arm and a leg. So using a major platform such as HubSpot or Salesforce can cost thousands or tens of thousands of dollars, euros, pounds per month. So as a smart or small business, you want to maybe look for the same benefits, at a lower budget. So using best of breed and nifty tools, and then suiting them up with either custom integrations or something without funding, I think is a great alternative to using one of the major all-in-one platforms.

Mike: That's interesting. It's a great point around value as well as what you talked about earlier with maybe sales and marketing want different tools. I'm interested, you know, you've got all these integrations, you know, what are the most popular integrations? What are the biggest, you know, connections that you tend to make or your customers tend to make using Outfunnel?

Andrus: So, I think maybe due to my own background and we have some other team members that are Vija alumni. We have a lot of Pipetribe customers as our customers. And then our popular integrations are then connections between Pipetribe and MageImp or Pipetribe and Xavio or Pipetribe and Brevo, formerly Sendinblue. So we're just linking up CRM and the marketing automation tool so that nobody needs to do manual contacting, import, exporting. And so the email engagement can be linked back to the CRM for the marketing automation tool to offer salespeople more context. So I think these are some of our popular integrations and also similar integrations with HubSpot as the CRM. So I think that, yeah, our bread and butter is linking a CRM and the marketing automation tool. And I would think the second category is just other revenue generating related apps. So calendars among our popular integrations. If you want your Calendly meetings to arrive in your CRM instantly and with all the submitted data coming to the right fields and with the marketing source also attached to the lead, then we can do that for our customers.

Mike: That's fascinating. I mean, another thing I'd like to understand, you can sync things like history together. There's a lot of tools that can just bring the basic fields across. But syncing history where you have multiple items for contact is much more difficult. It's something that's hard to do, for example, in Zapier. How important is that to get that record of what people have done across from one system to another? Or is it more just making sure that you've got the same email address, the same spelling of the first name and things like that?

Andrus: Second, it depends. I think for some use cases, it's perfectly fine to use something like Zapier. So if you need to submit form submissions from website to CRM, then Zapier can be just fine. But then there's cases where you'd want to do whole segment-based syncing. So I want to sync maybe customers and leads as a list from the CRM to the marketing tool. And maybe there's a list of secondary leads or other types of leads that I want to sync from the marketing tool to the CRM. Some of them are new, some of them have some history. And then trigger-based syncing is not enough and you'll want to use a specialist. solution for that. You could use Outfunnel, you could build it your own, there's other tools like Outfunnel that help you. Usually I think if there's a database in CRM and another database in marketing automation tool, you want this synced in a way which is not trigger-based but more holistic and it would include more historical data.

Mike: That makes sense, that makes a lot of sense to give a richer picture. I'm interested as well on the platform. So Outfunnel, we've talked a lot about syncing. You also offer other features in Outfunnel. So for example, visitor tracking on websites. Can you talk a little bit about why you've chosen to do that in Outfunnel, why that makes sense rather than maybe using a marketing platform that would have that built in?

Andrus: We built it because not all marketing tools have it. So HubSpot had it, and then HubSpot users who use the whole suite don't need ours or anybody else's. But if you're a PipeServe user, for example, or a copy user who uses MailChimp as a marketing automation tool, then MailChimp doesn't have a website visitor tracking feature. And yet, understanding what leads to on your website and which lead has visited which page is hugely important in understanding how warm a lead is or how self-reliant they are. So we think we picked it because customers were asking for it. And as soon as all the marketing platforms or CRMs have added their own, we're happy to drop ours because our bread and butter is in taking data between There's the marketing tools, but in order to offer a holistic solution for a company that you have your CRM data and your email data and your website data and your ads data in one place, then we need to either offer our own website visitor tracking feature or integrate with the tool which offers it.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. I totally understand that. I'm just changing a little bit in terms of focus here. I'm interested to know how you promote Outfunnel. What works for you? What do you find the best tactics? And marketers are always, I think, interested in knowing what works for other people in other companies.

Andrus: One thing which I think is both a plus and a hindrance is that we tend to, our purchase of decision for something like Outfunnel tends to be very close to purchase decision of a CRM. And then if somebody stops using a CRM, they will also probably stop using something like Outfunnel. So then the communities that CRM companies have built around them are our biggest source of leads. And we just need to be present there, we need to make sure that we have good reviews there. We need to make sure that we are active in the communities which are online and sometimes offline. So that is by far our major source of lead. So we are present on Pytron Marketplace, HubSpot Marketplace, Copper Community and Salesforce we are not that active with yet, but we are definitely be more active with Salesforce in the future as our integration gets more advanced. The other important way for us finding customers and for customers finding us is we're just findable. I think there's a category of products which people are not aware of. There you really need to be active in media advertising or social media or PR, but we belong in a category which people tend to know. So if they want to take Pipedrive and MainChimp, they start Googling it. And we just need to be findable. which means that our content at SEO Cave needs to be somewhat strong. We need to buy some ads through the rated keywords. And then we just need to make sure that sites that come up when you search for something like connecting HubSpot and ActiveCampaign feature us, which is a combination of SEO content, some review management, and then working with platforms like AppJarra and whatever sites come up with online searches.

Mike: That's great. And it's really interesting how you're focusing all your SEO around solving problems, you know, you're not optimizing for your brands. In fact, you're optimizing for the brands or the vendors that you're you're gluing together.

Andrus: Exactly. And then sometimes A PyTorch user may just want to know, how do I get more value out of the CRM that we picked? And then they search for PyTorch integrations or PyTorch tips or PyTorch hacks. And then these are also keywords where we want to be present. This is not our large source of lead, but it's important enough to warrant some attention and some work from us.

Mike: That absolutely makes sense. I'm interested actually now, we've talked a lot about Outfunnel, and you integrate with all sorts of products, from MailChimp up to Salesforce. So who do you think you're really designed for? Is it designed for a particular size company or people with particular problems? Where do you think you fit in the market? And the question everybody's wondering as well is, what does it look like in terms of pricing for the products?

Andrus: So I think we are targeting larger, there's a term which I don't love, but I use it a lot nevertheless. So SMBs, so small and medium businesses. So we're targeted at SMBs. Some are solopreneurs, so about 1% each. Some are very large companies, but I think our sweet spot is 10 to 200 people in the company. And then the company would need to have a marketing function or team and a sales function team. If a company only has a sales team, let's say, I don't know, if you're selling to government, you don't really do much marketing. You don't need your marketing and sales data to be joined, then there's less relevance for us. If you work in e-commerce, you're mostly doing advertising, there's no sales team. There's no need for something called funder. There's no need to unite your data. But yeah, I think companies where The sales team, marketing team, which are medium-sized, and then where sales and marketing need to work together, that's where usually there's a bigger data integration need. And then these companies tend to want to sync up their sales and marketing data.

Mike: Perfect. That's really clear, and I'm sure really helpful for listeners to work out, you know, where you sit in the market. I really appreciate your time, Andrus. I'd just like to ask, there's a couple of questions we like to ask everybody who guests on the podcast. And the first thing is to know, what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Andrus: That's a very good question. And I thought about it hard, but then the best advice I've given depends on where I've been in my career and what stage the company has been. So there's no, I think there's no universal advice in marketing other than talk to your customers. Everything else depends on the stage of your company. the budget of your company and then how your customers buy. So I would say talk to customers. They will tell you how they want to buy, which I think is a good guideline for how you should market.

Mike: That's awesome. That's actually incredibly good advice. I love that. And the other question we always ask is about people starting off in marketing. So you said it's important to understand where you are in your career for the best advice. Well, what about someone who's, you know, maybe just left university is going into their first marketing job? What advice would you give them?

Andrus: I would advise them to not look for advice, but just try it out. So try different marketing roles, try to see where, like, does marketing suit them overall? And if it does, then try to get experience. And then I think the good thing nowadays is it's easy to get, like, bite-sized jobs, work via freelancing platforms or work on a contract basis. Try to work in B2B, B2C, different areas and see where you connect, where your skills and strengths really shine. And then go all in if you find something where your skills make sense.

Mike: Awesome. That's really good advice. I think really strong advice for anyone starting their career. Just to summarize, is there anything you feel we've missed or how would you like us to remember Outfunnel and what it can do for customers?

Andrus: A good place to start is that do your sales and marketing teams need to work together? If they do, is the data joined together already? If they're not, starting from data is usually a good place to start because it's relatively easy and relatively inexpensive. So if the data is not joined, I would stop there. But if the data is already joined, and if the sales and market teams are working off the same data, then you would need to look into areas such as communication or collaboration or joint goals, which are harder to manage. They take longer to solve, but great next things to do after data has been joined up.

Mike: That's fantastic. I think that's a really good summary. Thank you so much for your time on the podcast, Andrus. Just one question. If people have something they want to ask you or they'd like to find out more information about the product, what's the best place to go either to get a hold of you or to learn more about Outfunnel?

Andrus: I am active on LinkedIn. So Outfunnel is easy to find on LinkedIn and my name may be a bit complex to pronounce in English. A-N-D-R-U-S-P-U-R-D-E. But yeah, I'm usually easy to get hold of there. And I'd love to answer any questions relating to B2B marketing or connecting sales and marketing data.

Mike: That's awesome. That's very kind. Thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast, Andrus. 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 favorite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

A Napier Podcast Interview with Mark Donnigan - Virtual CMO

In this episode of Marketing B2B Technology, Mike chats with Mark Donnigan, a virtual CMO who works with tech companies. Mark shares insights into his career journey, discusses his approach to building long-term client relationships, and emphasises the importance of understanding the market and customers.

Mark also shares his advice on marketing tactics, highlights the value of focusing on go-to-market strategy, and talks about the importance of getting into the field to understand customers.

About Mark Donnigan

Mark Donnigan designs and executes marketing programs and go-to-market strategies to establish and grow markets for disruptive startup companies. As a transformative B2B marketing and business leader, Mark understands what’s required to succeed in today’s winner-takes-all market.

Well-versed in SaaS, software licensing, enterprise technology, and platform business models, Mark helps companies build efficient marketing teams that routinely outperform larger marketing departments.

Time Stamps

[00:44.0] - Mark shares his career journey and explains his role as Virtual CMO.

[12:57.0] - The benefits of hiring a Virtual CMO versus full-time CMO.

[14:45.0] - Mark talks about his approach to building marketing plans.

[18:42.0] - Overrated marketing channels and tactics

[23:26.0] - Challenges with fixed KPIs in marketing

[24:37.0] - Mark offers some marketing advice

[25:52.0] - Mark's contact details


“Get into the field. Know the market. Know the customers. Know how they think. Know what they care about. Know how they make decisions.” Mark Donnigan, Virtual CMO.

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Mark Donnigan on LinkedIn:

Growth Stage Marketing website:

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Transcript: Interview with Mark Donnigan - Virtual CMO

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Mark Donnigan

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 Mark Donnigan. Mark is a virtual CMO who works with tech companies. Welcome to the podcast, Mark.

Mark: Yeah, well, thanks for having me. Really looking forward to the conversation. Well, it's great.

Mike: So Mark, firstly, we like to understand a bit about people's background. So can you tell me a little bit about your career and how you got to the point of working with all these different tech companies?

Mark: That's right, yeah. Well, I like to say my career is like all of ours, right? It was absolutely perfectly orchestrated. I had everything planned, knew exactly where I would be at each juncture. Obviously, that's a joke. Yeah, so I am technical by nature. I do consider myself a technologist, but really I'm a marketer. I'm a creative. I play music. And, you know, so I kind of have this left brain, you know, this right brain thing going on, which, which I guess serves well in marketing, you know, the data side and then the art side of it. But I started my career, I actually did go to music school after dropping out of a computer science program. Long story about how that was, but that's for another show. But yeah, I went to music school and I realized, oh no, not everybody is a rich rock star. And so I found my way into sales and started building my sales career. Along the way, I very quickly discovered the power of marketing as an accelerator to sales and revenue. Initially, I would say it was sort of just out of necessity that I began to really become a student of marketing. Again, I wanted to make my numbers, and as I was growing in my sales career and managing teams, I wanted my teams to make their numbers. You know, I took a very fervent interest in how marketing works and eventually took on formal responsibility for marketing, but always running sales, you know, it's always in a revenue context. My career really pivoted more into the marketing realm, I guess you would say, when I started getting involved in startups and started doing a lot more around strategy, more business development, you know, looking out at markets, how are we going to build markets? What markets should we go after? where there are opportunities, you know, market inflections, all those things that you do, you know, when you're growing, especially a startup, a technology startup that just sent me increasingly down the path of looking at marketing. really my full-time focus and so I've been living in the marketing world full-time you know or really I guess you could say in a dedicated way for oh a dozen years or more and been working in technology and technology sales for 25 years.

Mike: I love that enthusiasm around, you know, helping companies scale. I mean, what is it that really excites you about that? Is it the fact you can have a big impact in a very short time or you can see massive growth? What's really cool about that?

Mark: Yeah, it's a great question. You know, I actually introduce myself when people, most of the time I do anyway, when people say, hey, so what do you do? You know, I say I build companies. I actually say that before I say something like, oh, I'm a virtual CMO or I work with startups and help them in the areas of marketing. I usually say I build companies because really at the end of the day, that is what we all should be doing, right? But I believe that that is the ultimate mission of marketing, you know, really. And that may seem like a completely obvious statement. And yet I think we've all seen too many examples where, you know, marketing is a little closer to the arts and crafts department or the keeper of the brand. Important things, you know, look creative absolutely matters. And yes, brand absolutely matters. But, you know, when you're building a company, especially today and especially in the tech world, there's a lot to that, you know, there's a lot to it. So yeah, I really enjoy the elements of building, creating something that, that, that is new and that's, you know, fresh and different. That's, uh, that's what I love.

Mike: And one of the things that interests me is probably most of the people who listen to this podcast, they're probably employed in a large enterprise rather than a smaller company. I'm sure they're interested to know what it's like to be a virtual CMO. What kind of engagements do you have? How much time per week do you work on each client? Are you working on multiple projects at the same time? Tell us a little bit about the role.

Mark: Sure. So nowadays, the fractional executive role, so whether that's a virtual CFO, virtual CMO, virtual, you know, the whole C-suite is being virtualized, it seems. It does mean different things, and some of it is really based on how the individual chooses to work. So the way that I choose to work is I don't do projects. So that is one model. You know, one model is to drop in as a virtual executive and maybe you're kickstarting building a team. Maybe the CEO or the founder feels, hey, you know, I really could use kind of a confidant for six months while I'm trying to kind of understand, maybe they're not a marketing person, they don't understand marketing, so they want someone to walk alongside them. That's fine. That's not how I work. So what I do is I come into environments, into organizations where I can add value. That involves obviously bringing my marketing toolkit with me, you know, meaning, you know, all my experience. But it generally also means going into markets that I know very, very well. So very commonly, I actually come in as a subject matter expert in that industry. For example, one industry that I primarily work in is video technology, video streaming. You know, if you think, I think all of us probably have a Netflix subscription. So any service like Netflix that is streaming high quality video, there's a whole set of technologies that come together behind the scenes to make that happen. That's a market that I know very, very well. I just came from the National Association of Broadcasters show in Las Vegas. And I actually spoke on a couple panels and moderated an executive session. And so I'm out there not as a CMO. I'm actually out there as a subject matter expert presenting and speaking to the industry. So that sets me apart in how I work. And it also is an incredible differentiation when, you know, when there's a lot of very, very talented marketing folks out there, marketing leaders, some who probably have way more experience and can bring even more than I could. But generally the fact that I know the market in a way that maybe another you know, marketing leader does not, is why companies want to work with me and why they do work with me. So, I typically engage for multiple years in my clients, typically two to, you know, I have an engagement coming up on four years and it's, you know, it's not showing any signs of ending. The working relationship is really, you know, well fit. So, works well for the client, if it works well for me, then we keep going.

Mike: That sounds good that you're really looking to build that long-term relationship.

Mark: It's the only way to do it, I've found, at least I feel.

Mike: No, absolutely, completely agree. I mean, I think I'm interested, you know, why people would call you in rather than maybe hire a full-time CMO. Is there a certain stage in a company's development or have they hit a particular problem? I mean, what's normally the trigger?

Mark: Yeah, very good question. So, uh, it can be at a couple different points. First of all, I don't engage with real early stage companies. So if you think about it as funding rounds, um, I'm almost never working with, in fact, I'm trying to think. Actually, I have had one client that was seed, seed funded, meaning that, you know, that I actually helped them a little bit. but they actually were not a real long-term engagement. So typically they're at series A to series B. They're doing somewhere between five to ten million dollars of revenue. They are at a stage of what you might say is product market fit. They're in a scale up. And so they call me for a couple reasons. One is, is that they finally have the resources to be able to build a marketing function beyond, you know, maybe a founder and a founder and a freelancer or a founder, a freelancer and a first marketing hire, you know, in other words, everybody starts, you know, pretty, pretty simple. It's, it's pretty much, you look around and you say, what do we have? You know, and if there's somebody who took a few courses of marketing in the, in the startup, they're usually congratulations. You're now our director of marketing, you know, in a lot of startups, that's the way it works. But the challenge is, is that that's one way to get started. You get a website built and you can, you know, go to a few trade shows and you can kind of get something started, but it's not a way to build a real. engine, you know, you just, you just need typically more experience. And so they'll call me in for that. Uh, in some cases, maybe there was a failed high profile hire. Many, many startups fall into the trap of, they look at either who the leader in their, in their particular space is, or maybe somebody who's, you know, who's, um, one step removed. You know, and a common one that gets, you know, that gets bantered around is if we could just get someone out of HubSpot, if we could just hire someone from the HubSpot marketing team, we're going to crush it. That's what we need. So they go tell their, you know, their recruiter or their third party recruiter, or they start scouring LinkedIn, looking for an end to get somebody who's, you know, looking for that next promotion at HubSpot, you know, to recruit them away. The problem is, is that those marketing hires almost always fail. They certainly don't succeed in the way that most people plan them to, not because it's the individual's fault. but because there was a complete mismatch between what that company needs, the stage of the company, and the HubSpot, for example. It's just a complete mismatch. And so I get called because sometimes, you know, the founder is scratching their head because they're saying, but we love this person. They were an incredible fit for the culture. You know, they were smart. Look, they were at HubSpot for seven years, you know, and, you know, they were a senior member on the growth marketing team. and you know or fill in the blank right there's always some rationalization that says you know we can't figure out why they failed but the net result is is that we haven't gotten any leads and they've been here 18 months and you know we're not really happy with what they're doing so what's wrong you know help us out Then I come in and, of course, the very first thing I do is I tell them, no, actually, it's not the person's fault. And if you fired them, you know, that's a little bit sad because you mishired. They were not bad. In fact, they were very good. You just mishired completely wrong person, you know. So the next person coming out of HubSpot is going to fail to go get someone from Salesforce. They're going to fail because that's not the stage you need. And then people begin to ask, well, what's the stage and how do I know and, you know, help us here. So I get engaged and we start building a function.

Mike: Yeah. And I totally agree with that. I think sometimes previous success can be a real disadvantage if you're moving from one situation to a different situation, because you, you try and do what worked with you in the past, but the reality is the world's moved on and the company working for is different. Absolutely agree.

Mark: And it is complicated. I was listening to some folks on an interview show last week, and they were observing what we know to be true, is that The problem is, is that if you're bringing your playbook, and they were talking about in the context of like CMOs, it's well known that CMOs churn faster than any other chair in the C-suite. And so they're having a discussion about why that is and then what CMOs should do. Like, you know, and one of the big takeaways was that stop bringing your playbook. By very definition, the playbook that worked, even if it is a similar phase, similar scale, same industry, they're two different companies. By very definition, there is going to be a different set of tactics. You know, there's going to be a different set of plays that need to be executed in company A versus company B. And too many senior leaders come in with kind of their playbook. And how many times do we hear, well, this is how we did it. Well, you should run from somebody who says that. That's what I've learned anyway.

Mike: Absolutely. I agree. And I'm interested now, Mark, when someone calls you in, how do you go about prioritizing and building a marketing plan? What's your process to start from the ground?

Mark: Yeah, good question, because like, well, wait a second, if you're a virtual CMO, you work with all these companies, don't you bring a playbook? Of course, there is a set of established, I like to think of more as like frameworks, because the way that I think of a playbook versus a framework is a little bit different. A playbook is a set of tasks or activities that you basically don't deviate from. you might deviate slightly but basically you have step one then you do step two then you do step three maybe step four can be split to an a and a b path but basically it follows right that's a playbook and you know those of us that played sports like you don't deviate from the play you know the play is the play a framework is different though because a framework is a way of thinking that you apply on some prescribed challenge or some objective. And that way of thinking comes with tactics that you execute, of course. You know, like email marketing and email newsletters and the email channel is absolutely a tactic that you need to deploy. But saying that we always wrote our newsletter in this manner, we always use this voice, we always sent it on Tuesdays exactly at 3.34 p.m. Eastern, you know, as a play may or may not be the right thing to do. But executing well on the email marketing channel, of course. It would be probably fairly unusual to say, oh no, we don't need to do email. And so I think of it as frameworks and that's how I approach it. And I really default to first principles at the end of the day, Mike. I have just found that marketing is problem solving in a lot of cases. And if we approach from a first principles, then we start by, are we producing the value that the enterprise needs us to be producing? And the value, it might be direct translation into leads. I mean, obviously, it's revenue, right? But it could be leads. There can be other ways that, based on the context, the business model, et cetera. But that all comes back to first principles, right? So if we say, wow, marketing is not keeping the sales team fed, well, let's look at what is our sales engine? How does that engine work? Do we even have the right sales engine that we're deploying against the market? And in so many cases, we don't. And so marketing is viewed as failing, or marketing is the whipping post. And in reality, we need to go back to the go-to-market, which is why I almost always am involved in go-to-market strategy and go-to-market leadership, almost always. And 9 out of 10 of the companies that I work with I'm anywhere from, you know, involved to an influencer to even very closely working with the founders, the founding team, the executive management to look at and to make decisions around go to market, because marketing is not divorced from the go to market plan.

Mike: Now, absolutely. And I think you're absolutely right that kind of, you know, trying this cookie cutter approach doesn't work. Yeah. But having said that, I'm going to have to ask you, what do you think is maybe an overrated channel, overrated marketing tactic in B2B? Is there something you feel that actually people are trying that really you've not seen working?

Mark: OK, I would have said events, but people have woken up to events. But before the pandemic, you know, I'll even say that some people should be very thankful to the pandemic because it saved them from making many, many more years of incredibly costly and just wasteful expenditures in events. I worked with one company that for two of the major trade shows, they were spending in the $400,000, $450,000, $500,000 a year. And by the way, this was after cutting back from like $700,000, $800,000, $900,000 in a single event. Single event. This wasn't their whole events budget. This was one event. And here's the here's the amazing thing, Mike. I mean, this just just blew my mind. You know, mind blown is that they did not have data on even one deal that had been furthered in the pipeline as a result of their last event they went to. And yet, and yet the marketing manager who was over events was absolutely insistent would have died on the sword that if we don't go with at least the same presence or even increase our presence, the industry is going to think we're dead. But that's one channel. The second channel, which is, again, this one though, people are still flushing money down the drain, Google AdWords, Google Ads. If you are buying Google Ads, I have to challenge you, they are incredibly hard to defend. Incredibly hard to defend. Go into your Salesforce instance and map, map your leads. Look at your CAC payback period. I just haven't seen an example yet where somebody can prove that there is ROI. I mean, you're just not going to get there. So I would say Google AdWords, um, you know, or just Google in general, stop it. Just stop it. It's, it's an absolute waste, absolute waste.

Mike: I think that's interesting. And we've seen campaigns that really haven't been very good. And I think one of my biggest frustrations is where you're spending money on Google ads and you're top of the organic search results because all you're bidding on is your own brand terms. So I think, you know, it's a difficult problem because attribution in Google ads is relatively easy, particularly if you've got online sales, but showing it's incremental revenue rather than revenue you've got already is very hard.

Mark: Yeah, now just, you know, for anybody who's like, well, hang on, you know, like, does that mean all paid is dead? No, not all paid is dead. So this is channel specific and it depends on what your intent is. So, for example, too many B2B marketers are running effectively direct response ads. Nobody wants to get a demo ad. The ironic thing is if we think about our own behavior, and you know, we all work for companies, right? So you think about your own behavior, you need to buy something for your business. Are you really clicking on get a demo? And then is that actually how you made that last purchase decision? Like, if we're really honest, the answer is no, we're not clicking on it. And even if we did, it probably was because it was for a product that somebody had already told us about. So then you're like, okay, fine. I did click on the ad. I did actually legit attend a demo, but I would have just gone to the website and signed up or I would, you know, like I would have found it. So it's not like I was just stumbling along, but using paid to promote content. in ways that I might normally not get that organic reach. Now that is, sometimes it's hard to do. And depending on the niche that you're in or the market that you're in, I'm not suggesting that you can just buy traffic, you know, to your white paper. Also, you have to have content people care about, right? And it has to be meaningful. But that is an application where paid traffic can be very useful. But if it's effectively direct response, you know, give me your, um, you know, your email address to download my white paper, get a demo, you know, kind of your very typical transactional direct response kind of mechanism. I'm just finding, at least I found in the markets that I'm working in, um, doesn't work.

Mike: And I think, you know, one of the problems is, is that marketers get measured on certain KPIs. And the KPI quite often from sales is, well, we need demos, because when we demo something, we sell it. And the answer is, yeah, through the normal sales process that works. But if you try and game the system, just get as many demo requests as possible, the quality is very different. And I think That is a challenge, particularly for marketers in the enterprise environment, where they have fixed KPIs. To some extent, to progress in your career, you have to optimize for the KPI rather than optimize for marketing success.

Mark: So it's true. The sad thing though, is, is that it keeps that marketer stuck doing the things that are working increasingly less. And it doesn't give them the knowledge and the experience to grow in the tactics and the strategies and the, that are actually going to allow them to go into another company and do something meaningful.

Mike: And that's, I think, an interesting challenge and some really good advice for people thinking about looking for a new role. I'd like to finish on something positive. So what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Mark: Get into the field. Know the market. Know the customers. Know how they think. Know what they care about. Know how they make decisions. And all of this is like, well, yeah, of course, of course we have our personas, you know, we've gone out and done our studies like. Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know you have. And chances are somebody doing that work did go out, maybe did exhaustive interviews, you know, maybe traveled, maybe shadowed the sales team, you know? So of course, somebody in your company did that, but was it you? How well do you really know like how that customer thinks? How are they making decisions? Yes, they're telling you one thing, but what are they actually doing, you know, quote, behind closed doors? I'll tell you this right here is the number one turbocharger, the supercharger to a career, to a marketing career.

Mike: I love it. That's amazing advice. And I really appreciate, you know, all the insights you've given us today, Mark. It's been fantastic. I mean, if somebody is listening, they'd like to contact you, you know, maybe they've got a question. Maybe they are looking for a virtual CMO to scale their company. How could people get a hold of you?

Mark: Yeah. So my website is And I I've got just a ton of resources up there, you know, for marketers who might be wanting just some more. I mean, there's no shortage of, of wonderful resources out on the internet, but, uh, I am, I am proud of some of the things that I've written and put up there. So, um, and then LinkedIn, just Mark Donnigan. You will find me.

Mike: That's awesome. Mark, thank you so much for being a guest on the podcast and sharing all your knowledge.

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 favorite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

A Napier Podcast Interview with Molly Bruckman - Mutiny

Molly Bruckman, Head of Growth Marketing at Mutiny, a website personalisation platform, shares some top tips on how marketers can effectively leverage personalisation to enhance engagement and drive results. She also explains the potential pitfalls of over-personalisation and how it can negatively impact marketing efforts.

About Mutiny

Most Marketing teams can’t play a meaningful role in breaking through to target accounts because the 1:1 marketing strategies that work don’t scale, and what scales doesn’t work. Mutiny helps B2B companies generate pipeline and revenue from their target accounts through AI-powered personalised experiences, 1:1 microsites, and account intelligence. Backed by Sequoia Capital, YCombinator, and CMOs from leading tech companies, Mutiny is rewriting the Go-To-Market playbook.

About Molly

Molly Bruckman is a customer-obsessed marketing and CX leader. With 10+ years of experience building personalization, CRO and ABM teams and programs, Molly thrives on developing creative solutions that propel marketers to new heights. Her journey spans diverse landscapes, from nimble B2B startups to dynamic B2C enterprises, orchestrating growth programs across various channels such as web, email, community and events - always with an eye for innovative strategies.

Time Stamps

[00:44.9] – Molly discusses her career journey from mathematician to marketer

[05:44.4] – Molly explains what Mutiny does.

[06:32.0] – Molly discusses the best data points to base personalisation on.

[12:03.5] – Molly explains how over-personalising can impact marketing efforts.

[17:41.0] – Who can benefit from Mutiny?

[18:55.1] – How does Mutiny effectively promote itself?

[29:19.1] – Molly shares the advice she would give to someone starting their career.

[27:41.7] – Molly's contact details


“Marketing strategies that work don’t scale and the tactics that scale don’t work." Molly Bruckman, Head of Growth Marketing at Mutiny.

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Transcript: Interview with Molly Bruckman - Mutiny

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Molly Bruckman

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 my Napier. Today, I'm joined by Molly Bruckman. Molly is the Head of Growth Marketing at Mutiny. Welcome to the podcast. Molly.

Molly: Thank you so much for having me my.

Mike: Well, it's great to have you on. And you know what we'd like to do first of all, is get a bit of background about people and understand how you got into Mutiny. Well, so can you use give a bit of a description about what you've done in your career and how you've ended up at Mutiny.

Molly: Yeah, absolutely. So actually, I found my way to marketing through math, which is a little unconventional, but always kind of had a love for math growing up, like the numbers, the quantitative, like how all systems work together. And then I also like, have this creative side, I've always had a creative side. So I was in the drama club growing up, I was a figure skater. And I've like, always sort of just liked to create. And so I after, like, graduating with a math degree, I joined a experimentation company where I was an analyst. So I was like, learning how to test and create new experiences and analyse the results and look at web data. And so it sort of like blended those two worlds for me. And fast forward a little bit, ended up at Mutiny, because basically have the same skill set. So I was the first second hire at Mutiny. And basically, our vos Ally was looking for somebody who had both sides, like the left brain, the right brain, somebody who could do the quantitative side, but who also had customer experience. And I'd been working as a consultant. So I had the customer experience in the programme building aspects. And then also new web, and conversion rate optimization personalization, really, really well. And so yeah, I decided to take a really big leap, join, fly across the country, I was in DC at the time, I moved to San Francisco, and and join a startup as basically like the second employee of the company, to build out our CX team, but actually like how we engage with our customers, how we help them. And back in the early days, we didn't have product yet. So it was a lot of sort of r&d and figuring out what our customers need. And then working with our product team to build that. They grew up our CX team. And then I moved into our marketing org to actually like, do even more creative work. So start to build some education and content and activation programmes with customer base. And now I'm sort of blending the two together at leading our customer experience team and continuing that kind of education advocacy evangelism path that I was building in the marketing. org.

Mike: That's awesome. And I love people who find their way into marketing from more technical disciplines. I mean, I used to be an engineer when I started my career, so, uh, I totally get the attraction of marketing.

Molly: Yeah. I think the blend of like, just understanding how different pieces work, but then having expression over how you communicate, that just really brings a lot to the table. And just depending on what you're marketing, sometimes the technical side really, really helps you. I'm marketing to marketers, so I don't need to be that technical anymore.

Mike: I love it. And also, you're actually not based in San Francisco anymore, you're based in Germany. So tell me a little bit about your trip to Europe and, um, you know, how you find working in Germany.

Molly: Yeah, I didn't spend enough time to come up with a creative backstory there. So I guess I'll tell you the truth. Actually, I can tell it dramatically, there was this wild global pandemic event. It was insane. You've never seen anything like it. But yeah, we were at the time, we were eight people at Mutiny working out of basically an apartment in the mission. And we were growing really, really quickly, we were going to outgrow that space, nobody could go into the office anymore. And so we all you know, went to a work from home model. And San Francisco, sorry If anyone loves San Francisco, but it just deteriorated as I was there. And so I was happy to get out. I was happy that we were like moving to a remote model. We started hiring people anywhere in the world. And my husband got an opportunity in Europe, he chose to come to Munich, which is why we're here today. But he's he travels all over Europe and we both actually travel a lot. So really take advantage of the like, work from anywhere kind of mentality.

Mike: Amazing. We've kind of hinted at what Mutiny might do. But could you just briefly give an explanation of what Mutiny does and how it helps marketers.

Molly: Yeah, absolutely. So I think where we're at today in kind of the marketing world is that marketers can't really play a meaningful role in breaking into target accounts because the one on one marketing strategies that work don't scale and the strategies that scale don't work, where they're sort of left in a world where they can choose 10 accounts that get this one to one really special, bespoke treatment. And then everyone else sort of has to just like, maybe get some scale treatment. And so Mutiny actually helps B2B companies generate pipeline and revenue from their target accounts with AI powered personalised experiences, one to one microsites and account intelligence. So really, really helping our customers actually scale that one to one activity to many, many, many more target accounts.

Mike: So what you're doing is you're taking some existing content, maybe enhancing that with some data from perhaps the most relational CRM system, and then producing something that's purely customised to that visitor on the website. Is that Is that a good summary?

Molly: Exactly, yeah. So we, we integrate with first and third party data sources like your CRM, like you mentioned, marketing automation, on the third party side platforms like sixth sense, clear bed that can tell you who anonymous visitors on your website are and help you customise those experiences. And then I don't know if I don't know what category this is in, but like, many owned data sources, as well for like, which sets up pages people are looking at and starting to build an intelligence layer on what interests people have on the site.

Mike: That's great. There's a lot of integrations there. , what do you find are the most valuable attributes to personalize on then? What, what's the data that people pull in and it really makes a big difference to their results?

Molly: Yeah, it depends on the business, I think, you know, where I'd start, if I were advising a new customer or somebody to build a programme is start with how your sales team is segmented. So probably they're segmented by region, maybe they're segmented by vertical or industry. Usually, that's for a specific reason, right? That's to keep the account intelligence and learnings that you're getting across the industry consistent and make sure that those reps get better and better and better at selling into that market. And so if you can map your ABM strategy or your personalization strategy in a similar way, where you can kind of apply marketing tactics to those same segments, tends to be really effective. As more of a broad like generic rule, I would say industry personalization always performs really well. And again, depends on your business. If you have, you know, a lot of reference customers already in a certain industry or not, you're gonna do better. But industry personalization does really well, company size, personalization. Also, you know, the way you speak to a startup versus the way you speak to a large enterprise is completely different. You're going to talk about different sets of use cases, you're going to use different language, you're going to talk about different value prop so so that one definitely matters a lot too. And then buying stage, I would say is another like critical way to be personalising. So when somebody needs to sort of be solution informed, like you need to teach them about the problem you solve. And as they move through the funnel, you need to start changing your messaging to how you solve the problem, and why you and not your competitor. So you can get really custom based on, you know, how far somebody is in their buying journey with you.

Mike: That's great. I mean, there's a lot of things you can do there. So maybe you could dig just a little bit deeper and explain, you know, how people might achieve that personalisation, what they might change on the website, or what, you know, kind of experience a visitor might get that makes it feel like the website is really personalised for them.

Molly: Yeah, definitely. And this, this depends on the channel of distribution. So somebody comes into your website, let's say clear bed or six cents matches their IP address to accompany and then you know, which company they're coming from. If you change your headline to, Hey, meet me good to see you're there. Like that is way too much for like somebody who just came to your website on the first time they're on your website, they're gonna be like, very creeped out and confused and concerned. So don't do that. There's definitely like a right and a wrong there. But where you find the sweet spot is basically using all of the data you have as intent signals to help you adjust the message to get closer to what they might be looking for, though, maybe you look at Mutiny, and you say, Okay, this is a smaller tech company in the mahr tech space, they are probably working on scaling right now. So we want to give them a message about how we can help them grow faster. And then we see a headline that says, grow faster with blah, blah, blah solution, whatever it is, versus like a large enterprise comes and maybe you're trying to replace another solution, or maybe you are, you know, you need bigger access controls for large teams like you can change that message and those value props depending on who's there without being over the top. So I think like headline messages like text on a site, especially obviously content above the fold, like that's always going to be what matters the most. And then CTA is so CTA is that match should kind of buying stage stage of funnel you know, don't ask somebody to take a demo when they don't know who you are yet, tell them learn more and like Teach, you know, send them to a video where they can learn more. So you can kind of map your CTA your asks per your, your visitors based on where they are in your binary funnel. And then social proof, I think is the other really big thing. So mapping your social proof to companies that are similar to the company that's visiting your site, whether that is by industry or by company size, showing the right set of logos in your logo bar showing the right case studies showing the right like competitor takeouts and things like that can really, really help that whole experience just jive with the person that's looking at it versus be like over the top built for you. Now, if you're talking about microsites, that's a different story, because that is built for you. And so that's where you get to be over the top. These are kind of one to one pages, usually used in ABM programmes that you send or your your BDR SDR team sends out in email sequences, and they're saying, Hey, I built this overview for you. And so at this point, now you have all the freedom in the world to like, use their name, use their title, go way over the top with personalization to say like, Hey, Mike, I built this page for you. Here's three things I think you're struggling with, here's how we help. Here's some case studies and playbooks they picked out for you, and a link to like book a meeting with me my Calendly link is at the bottom if you want to chat. So these ones you can get really, really personal. But it depends on how you're distributing that page and how people are getting to the page if it's organic, or if you're kind of bringing them in.

Mike: So that's fascinating. You said something there that I think maybe a lot of people don't think about.  The level of personalization depends upon the context. So what someone's expecting, if they just come organically to the website, then over personalizing can actually be a bad thing. You know, is that something you actually see reducing performance, where people over personalize and it feels, as you say, a bit creepy?

Molly: I mean, it depends on your industry. So if you are like selling to engineers, and security people and type people, you can't do that, right, they're gonna be really creeped out. They're gonna be very concerned, they're gonna be you know, they care a lot about privacy. So you have to think about who you're marketing to. Now I'm, I work at Mutiny, I sell a personalization software, I can call you by name, because I'm selling the product that shows you that I can do it. So it's like a little, you know, it all depends on the context at the end of the day. So I think in general, like different industries value different things. And actually, I've even seen a security customer of ours tried personalising using the company name on the inbound experience, and it didn't perform well. And they changed the audience to only tech companies. And then it performed really well. So I think also, like tech companies tend to kind of value the more creative, personalised experiences and things like that versus like, education, health care, they don't want to see their information on the page.

Mike: that's fascinating. I think it's an extra layer that maybe people don't think about when it comes to personalizing content. So great advice, Molly.  Um, just moving on, you know, in terms of how Mutiny works, understand it. I mean, you as a marketer really have to select what gets personalized. So you might say, well, this is the headline that's going to change.Is that how it works? And in that case,  Does it take a significant amount of time to actually get up to speed and work out how to use Mutiny and what to choose to personalize?

Molly: Yeah, that is, for the most part, how it works today, although AI, obviously, is an area that we along with everyone else is investing quite heavily in and continuing to build in. And so one thing that is like very clear to us, and our strategy is, we need to allow marketers to be in the driving seat here. So we're not going to be like a black box platform where you just say like, click headline change, and AI does all the work and it changes all of these things, and you have no control over the message or what actually goes out there. So we're always going to leave the end decision up to the marketer where the marketer can, you know, AI can maybe suggest a lot of things and you can approve and say yes and no to certain things. But it should be your copilot and your helper and not just like, oh, cross my fingers and hope they do on brand or don't tell a lie about our product features or anything like that. So yeah, I think like technology will continue to is best there for new customers that to your question on like, does it take a lot of time to learn these things? We actually pair all of our customers with a Mutiny in house growth strategist. And that is a team that I grew and I built and I felt very, very passionately about but I have not hired CSMs I have hired marketers, and so everybody is here to actually be an extension of our customer team and make sure that they are implemented. think best practices and steer them away from, you know, using the company name on the in the headline like we wouldn't recommend and you know the sort of some of these best practices that we've seen, our team is here to help guide and give ideas and share best practices and things like that. And as we continue to grow and develop more and more of that gets absorbed into the product experience as well.

Mike: That's great. And the other thing I really liked about Mutiny when I looked at it was, it's not driven from a marketer's opinion. It's very much driven from data. So I've got to ask, you know, How often do optimizations work and how often do the marketers have to go back to the drawing board and, you know, maybe tweak what they're optimizing to get best performance?

Molly: Yeah. And I told you, I have a conversion rate optimization background. So I was running. Before I joined Mutiny, I was running experimentation programmes and a B tests for large large enterprises, like a gap and Oppenheimer funds and big big brands. And they'd be pretty happy with a 1%, lift, 3% lift like pretty Thrall lifts. And in general, I'd say like one in four, or one in five tests would win. So you have like a 25% ish when, right? The cool thing about personalization, so on the CRM side, it is very life. What if we change the headline to this, what if we change the button to get started, it's sort of like random ideas that you are trying to find a better solution for the average person, but the average person doesn't exist, right? Like, there is somebody who is like 10 feet tall, and somebody who's two feet tall, and to say that your average person is four feet tall, which you know, the math doesn't work out there. But you get what I'm saying. Like, you can just take the average of any given person, it's really about how different segments are behaving. And so the difference with personalization is, you're actually segmenting your audience, you have a specific person that you're building for not an average person, and you know a lot more about them, or you can do more research about them. And so you're actually crafting an experience for a specific person rather than some broad idea of the average visitor on your site. And so they actually win more like three and four times. And the lifts are more like 30% to 50%, even like 100% Plus left, so you're much, much bigger gains. And you're winning a lot more often.

Mike: With all this testing and with the ability to, to really scale up the personalization, I mean, does this mean Mutiny is really an enterprise product? You need a decent amount of web traffic to really benefit from it.

Molly: So I think this again, comes down to how you're going to use the product. So if you want to identify who's coming into your website, segment those audiences and then deliver personalization. Yeah, the trade off there is yes, while you win more often, you get big lifts, you get big lifts for smaller segments. So although those smaller segments are your ICP, so it's a good trade off. At the end of the day, you are cutting down your audience size. And so for inbound website, personalization, you should have I would say like 10,000 monthly visitors, at least on your site in order for those segments actually be meaningful volume for you. But for outbound personalization, like these microsites I was talking about that's only constrained on how many emails your team can send, right, like your BDR team, your SDR team can send and so there's no kind of traffic requirement for that use case. You just have to have a muscle around outbound email.

Mike: Interesting, so lots of flexibility. But it's been great talking about Mutiny Molly. I’m also interested  in how you promote the product yourself. I mean, you're responsible for growing the business to a large extent. So one of the most effective tactics you find to get marketers engaged and interested in Mutiny.

Molly: Yeah, so this is the fun part about marketing to marketers where, you know, you get to use your own product, talk about your own product, to sell your own product. And so I think I have something cheeky on my LinkedIn, like, I use Mutiny on Mutiny to grow Mutiny, or I'm a marketer, selling the market, just selling a marketing technology to marketers and talking about marketing or, you know, something that is just very confusing. But I think, yeah, we get that benefit of using our own product in a lot of our programmes. And so we really think about how do we bring more people to our website so that we can tailor that experience and show them the product in action when they come to our website. And then we have a really, really big microsite strategy. And actually, our microsite product was built out of our own early days when we didn't have website traffic we had, I think, like 2000 people coming to our website every month. And so we needed a way to talk about ourselves to market ourselves. So we built our own microsite product in order to help us get in front of the right people because we're targeting B2B marketers and CMOS You know, marketing leaders like we have a very defined ICP and audience, if we can build a page that demonstrates the product to them and show them, we're always going to do really, really well. So our own ABM programme brings in 60% of our pipeline and Mutiny. So it's really, really effective for us even to this day. Now we've grown our website traffic quite a bit too. So we can use both use cases and Mutiny. But in the early days, it was really on the microsite side, outside of using a Mutiny, like customer stories. And creative campaigns, I think are two really important levers for us. So putting the customer at the centre of everything we're talking about, making them the heroes showing, you know, marketers always want to learn from marketers. So making our customers look like heroes telling their stories, getting those out there, it helps our customers continue to activate and it helps our customers like brand build and further their personal careers. And then it also helps the market and everyone on our team kind of grow from there too. So actually did launched an ABM MBA programme, which is a fun play on words, but it features some of our customers that features non customers too. So just ABM errs, who are doing really, really good work and dives into the programmes that they're building and developing. So that one's really fun. And then creative campaigns. This is like a passion child. For me I love like big creative campaigns. In the fall, we ran a survivor programme was was spelled with AI in the middle sister of AI vert. And it was all about kind of educating around AI teaching workers how to use AI in their workflows. And it was gamified. So there was a big game platform, there was a $10,000 prize at the end, we had a lot of partners involved. So really, really just fun creative through like running games and different types of activation than just like a boring webinar programme.

Mike: I love that. I love that you're, you're so obviously having fun with some of your campaigns as well. That's brilliant.

Molly: I think that's the one thing like anyone looks at mutinies brand. They're like those guys have a lot of fun over there, huh?

Mike: It's awesome. I mean, you did mention the survivor, the AI campaign. Um, I, I'm interested, you know, how do you personally use AI in your marketing or do you use AI in your marketing?

Molly: Oh, yeah. I mean, I always have at least one probably many chat up T tabs open for real things and for fun things. And for life things like sometimes I'll just be like, Hey, here's the ingredients I have in my fridge and in my cupboard what can I make? I was thinking of soup is there what if I added ginger to it? Is that good or bad? It'll like make me recipe do I have Mutiny are like logo and mascot is a raccoon. And on social media, we have you know, with mid journey and things that have popped up, we've got like an AI version of the raccoon that's looks a little different than our logo, but he's pretty consistent. And whatever setting we need to put him in, his name's at chew. And I made an issue custom GPT builder so I trained it on all of our like brand approved to choose so that I can just say like, like we launched a Mean Girls campaign to go back to having fun with marketing. We, we didn't Mean Girls theme campaign, and I made all of these versions of it chew in like the classic mean girls to us, like, you know, at the cafeteria and things like that. So that one's super fun. And then for work, like with a BM MBA programme, for example, my process for getting to very high quality episodes is I do a prep session with the speaker. And we sort of like pre plan, what our agenda is going to look like and shape the story together because I don't want to just come in and like ask the same leaders all of the questions, same questions, I want to kind of dig in and tell a unique story with everyone. So we find that angle. And then I have a chat GBT process where I basically like turn that into the agenda for how we're going to speak together. I turned that into the copy that I need for the landing page. I turn that into the speaker notes and everything I'm going to need at the end of the day, so I have all of that processing kind of work through a workflow there. And outside of chat, GBT, our team also uses copy AI, which after the ABM MBA episode is recorded and published, we will put that through a copy AI workflow to come up with several different blog posts, newsletter posts, social posts, where we can like chop that up. And then on top of that, it's all of the AI that's just built into the tools that we're already using like Riverside and you know, production tools and things like that.

Mike: That's a lot of AI actually. That's interesting to hear how proactively you're using AI for everything from image generation through to written content and, and uh, podcasts. So, fascinating you're so bought into it.

Molly: Yes. And, and actually, uh, Stu on my team, he's our head of content. he sets a goal for himself to try a new AI tool every single week. So he's always testing something new and, and actually like replacing workflows. Like he's using copy AI now, but he was using something else previously. And just, you know, he won't settle, he'll keep going until he finds something that really, really works and has the right quality of output for us.

Mike: So that's amazing. I mean, trying a new AI every week. That's a real commitment to learning and testing new technology. this has been really interesting money. I'm sure I could talk for a lot longer, particularly about AI. But there's a couple of standard questions we'd like everyone to answer just to see what people think. So the first thing I'd really like to know is, what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Molly: I would say actually, not just marketing advice like generic advice, but simplify, very true for marketing too. But simplify, you get one ask you get one CTA, you have to prioritise what is that one is going to be. And if you get a good result, you can have another Ask you can have another CTA. And that's true for marketing funnels, marketing, language and messaging. But also, when you're working with customers, or communicating really with anyone, right is, you know, don't give people a laundry list of asks and things you need from them, simplify it to that one thing, and you're going to be much, much more likely to get a good result.

Mike: That's, I mean, that's great advice, I think, in a lot of areas. So I love that. We have another question we'd like to know is, what advice would you give, but particularly to one person who's just embarking on a marketing career?

Molly: Yeah, I think from a student perspective, I don't know if I would recommend like, go and get a degree in marketing, I think it is just the landscape is changing so rapidly that I don't think that is necessarily like, how you can set yourself up to like, become an online marketer, like the textbook background isn't necessarily going to help you as much as like, on the job experience. What I would say is probably really helpful is psychology or behavioural economics, or, you know, more kind of education time spent on how people think how people understand and process information, how they behave. And then you can learn the specifics of the marketing to whatever role industry tech stack, the company that you're in, is using, but if you have the foundation of understanding how humans operate, and how humans think you will, you'll be able to learn the tools and apply different strategies that are current. I mean, now it's like every six months, were like so rapidly developing and changing that, that I think you just need to stay on top of the market.

Mike: that's great advice, and I think it's important to remember that, you know, even people who have done the degree,  their, uh, knowledge, their information very rapidly ages. I mean, I actually qualified as an engineer, and we had exactly the same problem all those years ago, that, you know, by the time you finish your degree, what you'd learnt, it was already becoming out of date.

Molly: And I think that, that's absolutely the case in marketing.Yeah, for sure. And that's kind of cool to see. Right. Like, think people know it in the tech field that like, C++ isn't really the future anymore. But But yeah, I mean, marketing is moving really, really quickly to I'm sure all of business, every role kind of has that that vibe as well.

Mike: Absolutely. Molly, it's been fascinating talking to you and thank you so much for all the insight you've given. I mean, if somebody wants to learn more about Mutiny or maybe even ask you some questions, what would be the best way to find out more and perhaps get in touch?

Molly: Yeah, LinkedIn, feel free to follow me connect message me. I'd love to meet you, people. Awesome.

Mike: Molly, thank you so much again for your time. I really appreciate it. Thanks for being a guest on Marketing B2B Technology.

Molly: 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.


Quality or Quantity – Which is the Best Approach?

Lead nurturing is a key strategy within B2B marketing, and understanding your buying committee is essential to success. Mike and Hannah discuss how to use intent data to build paths through the buying journey for different personas, how to deal with data integration issues across platforms, and whether quality or quantity is the best approach to email marketing.

They also offer a sneak peek at our upcoming webinar “GDPR: What the Hell is Legitimate Interest?” and explore how GDPR can impact marketing automation and the opportunities marketers may be missing.

Register for the webinar on Monday 20th May, at 4:30pm BST, or watch on demand:

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

[00:59.9] – Mike and Hannah discuss lead nurturing and the buying committee.

[05:44.4] – Is the MarTech stack too large? How can marketer integrate data across platforms.

[10:56.0] – What is the impact of GDPR on marketing automation?

[15:05.2] – Top tips on ensuring high deliverability of emails.


“When people build lead nurturing and when people are building these workflows, they need to make sure that they are appealing to these different people in the buying committee.” Hannah Wherly, Head of Business Development at Napier.

 Follow Mike and Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode 16 – Quality or Quantity – which is the best approach?

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Wherly

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 Podcast. I'm Hannah Whaley.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard.

Hannah: And today we talk about Acton’s lead nurturing webinar,

Mike: we discuss our GDPR webinar,

Hannah: we discussed the best approach of quantity versus quality when it comes to email marketing,

Mike: and our insightful Tip of the Week talks about deliverability of emails.

Hannah: Well, hi, Mike, welcome back to another episode of marked automation moment. Now, I believe we're very excited because I think a certain Ipswich Town, one football at the weekend, but I actually don't want to spend too much time on that let us move on to marketing automation.

Mike: I'd love to talk about Ipswich Town, but unfortunately, we only have a short time on the podcast. So I think you're probably right, we should talk about marketing automation.

Hannah: I like to save the listeners, Mike, you know, well, let's get started. So I want to kick off with act on so act on actually recently hosted a webinar called get proactive of lead nurturing. So already, it's a bit of marketing fluff. But it was quite interesting, because we've not actually spoken about lead nurturing a whole lot on this podcast. And one real key thing that really stood out to me in this webinar was that people should focus on building out the buyer committee. Now this is something that we see all the time and Max Napier amongst our clients is that we're not targeting one person, that is not the way it is anymore. We are targeting a buyer committee of people that are decision makers. And I think it's really interesting, because when people build lead nurturing, when people are building these workflows, they need to make sure that they are appealing to these different people in the buying committee. So you know, you could have the marketing manager, but you could also have the procurement specialist, I mean, it's interesting to think about the different things that we could do to target them. And one thing that this webinar really focused on was using intent data to build that path through the buyer journey. What do you think about intent data?

Mike: So firstly, I'm super excited to talk about the buying committee, or as we tend to say, in the UK, the decision making unit, it's my favourite thing, I think about b2b, the fact that we're not marketing to a single person, but actually, it's a complicated decision with lots of people and lots of opinions involved. So I really think that that's important, and probably way more important in some ways than intent data. intent data is something you hear a lot of people talking about, certainly a lot of startups trying to sell. But quite often, it's very hard to find intent data, either, because the purchase is something that is going to be confidential. Alternatively, it's something where actually, people aren't really out active on the internet talking about it, it's seen as, you know, perhaps more of a day to day thing, you know, for example, engineers are continually buying analogue silicon chips. So to, you know, find intent data and companies that buy analogue silicon chips is almost impossible, because it's a day to day thing. So I think intent data is, is hard to find for, you know, a surprising number of b2b companies.

Hannah: I do agree my Can I have maybe a difficult question for you there? Because if you say intent data, is it maybe that solution? How do people target that buyer committee in these type of b2b companies?

Mike: Well, of course, one of the things you can do is try and generate your own intent data, exactly like you're doing our outbound campaigns, Hannah, what you're looking to do, is rather than finding intent data that's out there on the internet or available through a third party, you're actually trying to engage people, by sending them emails, sending them content, and the people that engage you take that as intent data. And I think that's what we need to do more and more of, and probably that's what act on was, you know, really hoping people would do is use marketing automation platforms like act on to build that really good, high quality intent data.

Hannah: I think that's a fantastic point, Mike. And it's actually something that's been really successful for us in the past, you know, we've sent emails trying to identify the marketing challenges, you know, what content tractor we want to put them on. So that's such a good point that actually, we can create our own internet data. And it's something I think b2b marketers can forget from time to time.

Mike: Absolutely. And I mean, one of the things you do Hannah that is really impressive is our monthly newsletter. It's possibly one of the least trendy things we do in terms of our marketing activities. But we do get intent data people do engage with that. And intent data can be anything from checking out blog posts, through to somebody coming back and we've had it a couple of times with the newsletter. so people actually saying I've read your newsletter, I think it's great. Now I want to work with you, which is the ultimate intent data, I guess.

Hannah: Oh, absolutely. I always use it as our best success story that we have actually won clients from this lead nurturing tactic that is so consistent for Napier.

Mike: Absolutely, you do a great job with that.

Hannah: Thanks, Mike. So let's move on. Because not only did Ipswich Town win at the weekend, Mike, but we also have some more exciting news because I believe your first martec column just went live.

Mike: Yeah, no, it was great. I mean, I was asked to write for, and really pleased that I'd be putting content out once every couple of months or so. So yeah, it was it was a great honour and really excited about it.

Hannah: Definitely. And I actually just want to dig a little bit more into the first article that you have published, because I thought it was so interesting. And just to give our listeners a bit of background, it really focused in on the silos of marketing. So the concept that really COVID has created this situation where we have an a quote, you hear Mike, you said, we have a Mar tech pile, rather than a Mar tech stack. So we have lots of little islands of strategy, tactics data, but nothing's really integrated. Now, do you want to share what your solution is to make sure these different martec Technology is united?

Mike: I mean, you're right, I think it's a huge problem. And what we have is we have lots and lots of companies offering marketing technology, we know that's getting bigger and bigger. And each of those companies wants to try and lock you in. And so what they're doing is they're actually trying to make it difficult to get data out of their system and share it with something else there. There are a few exceptions. And I think one of the things that is happening is Salesforce is kind of becoming a place where a lot of data sets. But that's not necessarily the you know, the best place to put it, you know, firstly, if you're not a Salesforce user, everybody's integrated with Salesforce, and you're left without any form of integration. And secondly, if you are a Salesforce user, your data sitting in the CRM. Now, that's probably not the right place for data to sit. And I think that's really hard. I mean, the other solution is, you know, some of the large enterprise customers we have, they try and download all their data into a central data warehouse or a data lake, you know, gonna come up with trendy names for where you store data, because storing data is obviously fundamentally boring. And so they try and put all the data together in a separate database. And that, again, may not be the right thing, because if you want to use it, you've got to pull it out and put it into another system. So I think it's a really tricky problem. And it's not made any easier by the fact that all these different systems all have different ways to share their data. You know, I'm geeky. So I'm gonna get a little bit geeky here, they will have what's called an API, which is basically a way for a programme to go and ask your marketing automation or social media or CRM platform for data. But they're all different. So you have to get an engineer to go and write code to actually extract that data for every single platform you've got. It's very time consuming and very painful. Well,

Hannah: Mike, if we're not all geeky, and say, We don't have an engineer on hand to build these API's for us, what is the solution?

Mike: Well, I mean, the good news is that there are people actually make an attempt to glue these systems together, I mean, long term the solution is, is that there should be interoperability between systems. So systems should just talk together automatically. That's clearly not happening because of this wish of the companies wanting a little bit of locking. But you can get a whole range of software. So a lot of people are familiar with Zapier or Zapier, which is a tool that will basically based on a trigger pull data out of one system, put it into another, for example, your webinar system, when you have a registration for the webinar, it will take that data and put it into CRM. And in fact, that's exactly what we do at Napier. But there's also more complex tools as well. You know, we work a lot with as an integration tool. And we're starting to see some less technical tools. This is a bit of a plug for our other podcast marketing b2b Tech. But I'm recently taught to out funnel, whose goal is to synchronise data had a fascinating conversation with them. And that's going to be an episode on marketing b2b technology that comes out in the next few weeks. So definitely well worth a listen if you're suffering from this problem.

Hannah:  Oh, that's really interesting to know, Mike. Thank you. And I think just one thing I'd add to that as well as tools like Zapier actually do simple things. So one of the things that we do at Napier, which I absolutely love is that we actually use Zapier to connect our CRM SharpSpring to Apollo to enrich our data. And I think it's such a cool thing for us, because you know, I'm really hot on my team that we have high quality data. I don't want to upload anybody that you haven't got this information for. But actually, you made my life easier because we set up this API connection, and now I don't have to worry about that as much and I think it's just putting it out there, as well as that there is these simple challenges, if you like that can be overcome by a quick connection like that.

Mike: Yeah, I think that is an absolute perfect example, Hannah, because, you know, we've got two systems, one that holds our prospect data, and one that holds a central database, or a third party database of information that we could enrich our prospect data with, the two don't talk together automatically. And this is not unusual. Um, it's the same for everything. So you need something to glue it together. But the great thing is, is that your team can go in and they can enter, you know, literally just an email address. And then the system will then enrich the data and put the person's name, their position, their company, and all of that kind of demographic firmographic data that you need to really understand the lead. So it doesn't only give you complete data, it also saves a lot of time, because you don't end up typing lots of data that can be put in automatically.

Hannah: Absolutely, absolutely. And I wouldn't be head of this def mic if I didn't link our database to the new webinar that we're actually hosting. So I just wanted to do a little bit of a shout out because you're actually hosting a webinar on Monday, the 28th of May, at 430 BST where we're actually going to explore how GDPR affects market automation. And we're really going to narrow in and focus in on legitimate interest, and how b2b marketers can use legitimate interests to help build better b2b campaigns. So I don't want you to give any answers right now, because I want people to go and watch our webinar. But I just wanted to do a shout out because I think when we talking about using these tools like Apollo and enriching our database, people's instant, kind of Oh, but what about GDPR? How are you being compliant? So don't worry, guys, we have the answer. Come and check out our webinar, we'll put a link in the show notes. But yeah, that's a question that we'll be addressing.

Mike: I'm really excited about it as well. And I mean, the other thing I'm going to talk about is companies that have different policies for sales and marketing, which absolutely drives me mad because there is no difference between sales and marketing in terms of the legislation. So hopefully, it will help people take a much more rational approach to dealing with privacy legislation like GDPR.

Hannah: Definitely. Now, I want to go on to a slightly different track, like because I want to have a discussion about the constant question of quantity versus quality. So when it comes to email, what do we think is the best approach? So personally, for me, I think quality over quantity every time. And I think this because the emails that come from your database, the emails that are going to your customers, the emails that go into your prospects, they need to be perfect, they need to be showing the best of the best of your company. They need to be tailored, they need to be personalised. And I think sometimes marketers can get lost in the letter, send out emails, let's just go let's just do that. But if they're not valuable, then what's the point of sending them? What do you think?

Mike: Well, you are a perfectionist, Hannah. And I know that you're going to spend a lot of time getting, you know, content written precisely for the audience you want and be very focused. I would argue that one of the problems of marketing is marketers actually try and be salespeople, they try and write content that is so personalised, it's almost individual. And that then kind of destroys the point of marketing. I mean, sales teams really are there to do that. And we talked earlier about our newsletter, our newsletters, not really personalised. I mean, we have free versions of the newsletter, but it's not personalised to individual customers or companies in particular markets. And yet, it's very effective. So I think that whilst personalization is important, you've got to be careful about not trying too hard to get too focused. And actually, you know, quantity sometimes is the way to go. And sacrificing a very small amount on click through rate or on engagement, but massively increasing your audience can actually be a better thing.

Hannah: I hate set, Mike, but you do have some valid points. I think the only thing I would add to that is that there is a fine line between sending these emails and still being a valuable resource, and then just being an annoying marketer slash salesperson. And I think marketers need to make sure that they balance that line. So that yes, I agree, at some point, you know, I can't disagree that Napi news is one of our most effective lead nurturing tactics, but at the same time, it's still a valuable resource. And so there still needs to be thought behind these emails to make sure that it's not just like, Oh, it's another email from Napier. Let's just delete that out of the inbox.

Mike: As always, you're right. And I think thinking of the long term is a great point, you know, building that relationship with people who receive your emails. I mean, I'd love to hear what listeners think about this. So if anyone has an opinion, please send us an email. My email is Mike at Napier b2b dot com and Hannah's his handle at Napier b2b dot com and hopefully Hannah you wouldn't have an inbox filled with emails with the subject line, your boss is an idiot.

Hannah: Well, we can only hope Mike, we can only hope. Well, just looking at time, Mike, I want to move on to the last segment of the podcast. And this is our insightful Tip of the Week. And it actually still relates to emails because I want to have a little chat about deliverability of emails, and how you can make sure that your emails are actually being delivered into the main inbox and not going into spam. I know this is something that you've been working on for Napier at the moment. So do you want to talk a little bit about it?

Mike: Well, I think it's a really interesting question, it does somehow tie into this quality versus quantity discussion as well. So what we're seeing is increasingly, where companies want to do higher volume of emails, they're considering using different emails for outbound marketing quite often different domains. And the reason for that is, if you do get it wrong, and you do go too far on the quantity side, and you start getting marked as spam, you're then going to see your email caught more and more in, you know, either junk mail, or even going to spam and just never being seen. So people increasingly are creating additional emails and additional domains. And there's some interesting things you need to do there. So there's something called Email warming, which is a fascinating topic and probably way too complicated to go into. But it's where you basically send emails before you actually actively use the email address for marketing. So you basically get the spam filters to see the email, and hopefully not see the emails that you send, get put into spam. So that's email warming. And then you have to go all the way through to managing those email addresses, making sure that you keep them clean, keep them out of the spam filter, and indeed out of the, the other and the clutter filter or whatever, filter you you know, terminology for the less important email. And that requires a lot of management as well. So I think it's really important to understand how you're using different email addresses, whether you're using different domains and how you manage those domains. And that's probably a little too complex to go through in a podcast. But obviously, if anybody is interested, they're very welcome to contact either you or me, and I'm sure we can help them.

Hannah: Yeah, absolutely. Mike. I think that's really interesting. And just breaking it down into those two steps, I think gives a good high level overview. But yeah, even I can go into as much detail as we need to to explain it properly right now.

Mike: And please do email us if you're interested and you've not heard of email warming, and we'd be more than happy to explain what it is and how it works.

Hannah: Absolutely. Well, thanks for another great conversation. Mike.

Mike: Thanks very much. Hello, I look forward to speaking to you soon.

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 Lisa Rees - Avnet Silica

Lisa Rees, Director of Marketing Communications at Avnet Silica, joins Mike for the latest episode of our leading B2B marketing professionals series. Lisa discusses the importance of understanding the customer journey, why having a non-technical background can be an advantage, and emphasises the value of measuring success based on metrics such as the customer lifecycle rather than just lead generation.

About Avnet Silica

Avnet Silica, a division of Avnet, is a European semiconductor distributor and specialist that supports projects from idea to concept to production. Avnet Silica acts as the connection between customers and suppliers, providing creative solutions, technology and logistics support.

About Lisa Rees

Lisa Rees is the Director of Marketing Communications at Avnet Silica and is responsible for all aspects of marketing and communications, including supplier marketing, digital strategy, media, content and events. She joined Avnet Silica after ten years as Director of Marketing Communications at Avnet Abacus.

 Time Stamps

[00:49.2] – Lisa discusses her career from the French chamber of commerce to Avnet Silica.

[02:52.8] – Lisa explains what Avnet Silica is and what they do.

[04:16.3] – Lisa shares why having a non-technical background can be a benefit in marketing.

[07:49.3] – What marketing activities make the biggest impact at Avent Silica?

[13:48.2] – Lisa discusses how to measure the impact of marketing.

[24:51.9] – How is Avnet Silica incorporating AI into its marketing activities?

[21:10.6] – Lisa shares the best piece of marketing advice she’s ever been given.

[22:58.7] – Lisa’s contact details


“Hang out with your customers… get to know your customers inside out. Every opportunity you can take to understand your customer is going to give you everything you need to be a good marketer." Lisa Rees, Director of Communications at Avnet Silica.

“If you're just measured by leads, you're probably not generating the right outcomes... the biggest return for the business tends to be in a small number of very high-quality leads.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

 Follow Lisa:

Lisa Rees on LinkedIn:

Avent Silica website:

Avnet Silica on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Interview with Lisa Rees - Avnet Silica

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Lisa Rees

Mike: Welcome to Marketing B2B Technology, the podcast from Napier. I'm Mike Maynard, and today I'm joined by Lisa Rees. Lisa is the Director of Marketing Communications in EMEA for Avnet Silica. Welcome to the podcast. Lisa.

Lisa: Thank you, Mike. Thank you for having me.

Mike: Great to have you on. I'm really excited because I think you're the first marketing leader we've had from our channel company, on the podcast. So I think we're going to talk a lot about you know, how things work in a B2B channel. But before we do that, can you just give us a bit of background tell us about your career? And why you chose to join Avnet?

Lisa: Absolutely, yes. So a little bit of background, my career, I think, I've always worked on my life, or very early on, I've always had a strong work ethic. I originally started my career in France, I studied French and economics at university. And I ended up working for the Chamber of Commerce in France, because I wanted to kind of mix the two, the two elements of my studies together. And then I kind of had a weaving path, I worked in a PR company, I worked in an insurance company. But ultimately, I was trying to get to Tech, I did a little bit of a business development at the start of my career. And I was also trying to get to marketing. So eventually, I made it into tech marketing. And that's how I ended up at Avnet. Silica. So a winding career, but I got to where I wanted to get to in the end. And why did I join AF net? I've met silico it's, for me, it's a, it's a really exciting place to be. It's, you're looking at the future developing all the time. That's what's interesting for me, and it's fast moving, you know, I love to know, kind of almost feel like I'm telling stories for the future. It's a little bit like we're in science fiction, maybe. But I think it's about the exciting developments for the future.

Mike: And so, is that really, you know, why you wanted to get into tech is it's all about the excitement, the speed of movement, rather than, you know, without wishing to be disparaging about some of your previous companies know, some of your industries you've worked in, have been notoriously conservative when it comes to marketing.

Lisa: They have and that's what I definitely wanted to get away from without any disrespect. But yes, ultimately, I wanted to work for a forward moving company. I was also interested in where that tech can take you from, from a society perspective. You know, I think I want it to feel like I was adding some value to the world. So I think from a tech perspective, there are advancements in terms of sustainability and was interesting for me.

Mike: That's great. I mean, it's a really positive view of tech. Before we go any further, I think we ought to really just clarify what Avnet does that mean, some of the people listening might not be familiar with the company. I'm sure a lot of people are because they're from the tech sector. But can you just give us a little bit of background about who you are, what you do and where your position is in the industry?

Lisa: Absolutely. So I've Avnet silica, well, I haven't actually chorus part of ASP NET. So a bigger corporation that said, global, my role is within Avnet, silica, and Avnet. Silica is a distributor of hardware components. Traditionally, that's where we sit in the middle of the technology design chain, I would say the technology and supply chain. So kind of like with the vantage point on what's what's happening, we work very closely with many manufacturers to distribute their hardware products. But I think things have evolved as well over the last few years in terms of we're no longer just looking at delivering the parts, we're actually looking at offering a whole kind of value added service, we're working with customers, right from the start from the ground up, I would say, because now we're implementing IoT, and AI and security and, and looking at different ways to bring value to those customers that maybe they never had before from one partner. So it's also about helping them innovate faster, helping them get to market faster. And I think that evolution for me is really exciting. It's kind of like from something that was traditional to something that is way more kind of holistic, I would say in terms of of planning and working with customers.

Mike: But I guess I mean, there's a lot of technical services you're providing, and you're not technical by background, as you said, and in fact that that's not unusual. I mean, I meet a lot of people in this sector that are not technical. But I mean, what challenges does that present you when you're working in a sector that is so driven by engineers?

Lisa: I mean, for me, I see it as an opportunity. I'm first and foremost, I'm a content marketer, I'd say that's where my passion lies. So I just want to sit and hang out with the engineers, it's what I've always wanted to do. I think it's this kind of ideal blend, really, of finding a subject matter experts that understands what our ideal customer base is looking for what they need to know. And then it's pulling that information. And then I'd bring my value as a marketer in terms of kind of how you position it, how you pitch it, how you get that content to the right people in the right places at the right time. So I'm always trying to find out what's the value prop behind what we're trying to say. And I think because I'm not an engineer, I can ask what other people might say, are really silly questions. And I can always start my sentence with, Hey, I'm not technical. Can we just go into that a little bit more. And for me, I think that brings a value that maybe I wouldn't have if I were a technical marketer.

Mike: I love that. I think you know, the way you see yourself working with the technical specialists and bringing that market expertise, I think is it is a way that a lot of great marketers in the sector operate. So that's really positive to see that you're almost using this non technical background. And I know you do understand quite a bit of the technology now. But using it as a bit of an advantage.

Lisa: Absolutely. I always say, I know a little about a lot of things. That can be a dangerous thing sometimes. But I think as long as you making those subject matter experts, your friends, and they very much are, you know, the people that I go to that I listened to, that I spend so much of my time talking to, and where my passion is to be honest, that I think it does work.

Mike: So moving on a bit more to your role and what you do. I'm always intrigued when people have rows, like, you know, director of marketing, communications and cover the whole of emir, and are in a company with a very broad range of products. I mean, how do you prioritise and start building a plan when there's so much to cover?

Lisa: It's tough, it is tough. If I'm honest, I'd say there's two, there's almost two prongs. Ultimately, you have to remember what we're here for, it's very easy to get bogged down, I would say in all the things that everybody would like to throw at you. Because when you're marketing, you're kind of like the frontline for anything that anybody needs. But for me, what's the main thing you want to do is you want to drive some pipeline, and you want to drive the revenue, and you want to disrupt you want people to know you and know who you are. So it's that, you know, is that focused on top of the funnel? And then getting to the bottom of the funnel? And how can I really work with those people. So I think you just have to keep sight of what's important, and what's going to make a difference to you. And I'm always looking to, to stand out to be different, not for different sake, but because I'm not trying to catch other people at their own game, I think that you can't do that. So it's like, I'm always the that mindset, if that if everybody's eggs, you've got this egg, you know, it's like, that's the way you stand out a little bit. So I'm trying to find a way to, I think you can disrupt a lot of the time with a tone of voice, even, I'm a very personal oriented person. And I think sometimes it's amazing what a tone of voice can do for your brand. You can be approachable, or friendly or knowledgeable or expert lead, or you know, all of those things. And you can change that just by the tone of voice that everybody uses within the business when you go to market. So I try to focus on, on the things that are going to move the needle, if I'm honest.

Mike: So that's interesting, I love you know, that focus on the detail as well as that very broad portfolio of tasks. But when you say, move the needle, I mean, can you unpack that? You know, do you have particular things you're trying to achieve in the marketing? Is it you know, all about lead generation? Is it about branding? Is it about positioning and perception? What do you think are your priorities?

Lisa: It's really interesting, because that priorities change, of course, over time, and I told you at the start of the chat that we're having about, however, that silica has moved from, I'd say a traditional supplier of hardware components into more of a kind of a consultant solution kind of approach. And I think getting that message out to the market takes a lot more time than you realise, you know, it's kind of constantly reinforcing it, constantly talking about it, constantly making sure that the white people are hearing it. So I think a lot of the focus for me is on that awareness. But ultimately, you've got to drive this balance, tread this tightrope between driving leads and driving demand generation, I was as I would call it, and building an audience takes time and patience. And I think focusing on leads can be sometimes a short term activity. And I think it's focusing on building the right kind of leads, and you have to do the demand generation and build that audience and put the real effort into kind of getting that content out there to drive the right kind of leads, I would say, and for me, that's the best the perfect balance.

Mike: I love that. And I think in B2B, some marketers are a bit guilty of thinking of demand generation as handing over a spreadsheet of leads, but you've made a real distinction between driving demand and generating leads. I mean, do you just wonder, maybe unpack some of the things you do that generate demand that maybe don't necessarily directly generate leads? I'm really interested in, you know, are you not dating everything to you know, every time someone downloads something, you generate a lead, presumably, you're taking a slightly different approach.

Lisa: I am taking a different approach for me, you know, kind of gating a white paper is, is a bit old school. And I like to make sure that I'm, you know, work, working with the way that people like to work. And I think so much is available now to our customers at their fingertips is that if I make the customers jump through hoops to get the stuff that they need, it kind of like creates this barrier. And also, I don't want 1000s of leads. It's not about volume for me. I think if you if you're measured on leads, you're driving the wrong outcomes. So I think you know, of course, I want those good leads, I want those sales qualified leads. But I think that I get those by giving away some of my best stuff free you know, if people read really cool stuff that's answering that their problems or their pain points are addressing the challenges that they have building that trust with you and you're building the authority and I think then people are more likely to come to you so I am focused on that inbound, then you have to make it really easy for people Pull to contact you, how do they get to you? How do you how do you create an urgency in the form that they fill in, over and above a normal query from somebody that maybe is not so valuable as it leads. So there is always that kind of like making sure that if you do focus on demand generation and inbound, that you know how to deal with it quickly and effectively, and straightaway, put it to the right person so that if you've got a really high value, potential customer coming to you, you hit them hard straightaway with what they need. See what I mean. So I think there's there's a lot of balancing going on. But ultimately, I'm focusing on educating to build that authority that said that the right people engage with us.

Mike: I love that. And I mean, I think that might be a little controversial for some people. But But I think you're absolutely right, when you said, you know, if you're just measured by leads, you're probably not generating the right outcomes. I've seen that where there's been an over focus on lead generation. And quite clearly, the more leads you generate, the lower the quality is where actually the biggest return for the business tends to be in a small number of very high quality leads.

Lisa: Exactly. And I say also, the more you create a disconnect with sales, you know, I want to work with sales. I also think about this attribution model where people go, Oh, marketing, at the first touch your marketing had the last touch, or, you know, it's a marketing source lead, ultimately, I'm lucky that I'm in a business that doesn't measure me like that. But the business focuses on alignment. So as a business, we're bringing together all the different facets of the organisation that can work together to drive the right outcomes and drive the right leads. And I think I'm very lucky to be in that environment that understands that it's a collaborative approach to lead generation rather than each individual feeling the pressure to kind of go, Hey, I've done a great job, look at all these leads up bought in. And actually, that's not helping sales at all, you've got to have this disconnect, where sales go, I can trust you, I trust that your what you're bringing to me as a marketer is going to be the stuff that's valuable for me to spend my time on, that is so important, I think, within the business, so that we don't have silos.

Mike: I love that. And I think quite often, you know, marketing's doing their job, when the role of being a salesperson becomes easier. And it's not necessarily throwing them a million, you know, contacts, they have to phone up who are actually probably not interested. It's about making the customer have this positive perception that when the salesperson, you know, talks to them, the customer immediately wants to work with avidex, silica, or whoever it is, rather than, you know, asking, well, who are you? And why should I work with you? And, you know, that should be the marketing job?

Lisa: Absolutely. And, you know, top of the funnel, absolutely, you know, we want to tell people our story, we want people to come in, and we want them to believe in us. But ultimately, where I need to spend a lot more effort, and a lot of more of my time is towards the bottom of the funnel. And don't get me wrong, I do gate stuff, I do wait, you know, you have to sign in to come to a webinar where you've got an expert talking for 45 minutes, we only need to sign in once and then you can access everything. So we still make it easy. But then working with those customers who are at that stage who are maybe working with reference design, or you know, they're looking at samples or I know they're actively involved in in kind of putting a design together, it's well how can we help those customers? How can we be of value to them? And I think getting that piece right, is where to put a lot of your effort as well.

Mike: So it was interesting. I mean, you seem to be saying, you still gate but it's right at the bottom of the funnel rather than, you know, higher up. I mean, that must be a much better user experience for prospects you're engaging. But how do you approach measurement? How do you measure how well you're doing? If you're not generating those leads?

Lisa: It's a really good question. Right? If the age old question for a marketer, you know, how do you know that all of your effort is giving you all of your results, and the course is a challenge, I've always stuck to the idea that if you try to measure too many things, too precisely, you can drive those wrong outcomes, you know, clearly lead numbers is is an easy metric to measure. It doesn't mean it's the right metrics to measure. It doesn't mean I'm doing a great job as a marketer. So I think you can look at sales qualified leads back to my point is like, what leads or sales going great job, that's exactly who I want to talk to. This is the kind of lead I'm looking for. So for me, that's probably a good measure. You can go further. I mean, we have a long lifecycle from design to actually, volume production could take, what 18 months, two years, but if you can get an idea of the lifetime value of those customers. That's an interesting metric. But again, because I'm not focused just on marketing, attribution, I'm focused on collaborative attribution. Again, you know, it's hard to say I did this, I got that bit, right. And it's not actually what I'm trying to do are ultimately focused on pipeline and revenue. And I think, therefore, those sales qualified needs for me so it's kind of like the bit that makes the difference.

Mike: I think you've put out beautifully and that's a really great approach. I think a lot of people could, you know, learn from so thank you for that. I'd like to change tack a bit and find out about you in terms of managing a marketing team. I mean, you're in silica which is A big company. And that's part of F net, which actually is a gigantic global company. How do you get a marketing team across, you know, different sub brands inside such a big company actually driving in the same direction?

Lisa: It's a really good question. I think driving in the same direction, it's all about a vision. I think if you've got a vision, and people understand how they're contributing to that vision, that strategy for success, that strategy for growth, everyone has an idea about where they go. In fact, I would say that's how the whole of silica is one, you know, we have a president that brings a very clear vision, and every single person in the business knows what they're doing to contribute to that vision and that strategy for growth. So it's a culture within the company, I think, which is really successful, and really works. And I think the same goes for, for me and my marketing team, you know, we know what we want to do we know our tone of voice, we know what our message is, we know how we want to feel like an open company that's very focused on people. It's focused on expertise, it's focused on knowledge, collaboration, proactiveness, all of those things, you know, we as a team live and breathe that. And I think that's my job is to spread that message and make sure that everybody feels a part of it. And I do it with a big tonne of energy, that's the only way I can describe it is, you know, I sell it as a concept maybe, and we feel together, we're succeeding. And for me, that's, that's what works. I'm also very collaborative with my colleagues in other speedboat companies with global marketing teams with the corporate marketing teams, I'm very much as I'd say, a team player, I enjoy collaborating with people across the whole business and where they can bring me value and I can bring them value, and we can not reinvent the wheel. That's the way to go for me. So I'm very open, I would say in my approach to working with the people.

Mike: I love that I mean, that there's definitely a theme of collaboration coming through this interview, which I think is great. I'm intrigued to know, I mean, you've got a marketing team, what's your management style? How do you go about, you know, motivating and developing the team,

Lisa: I am very focused on individual growth and individual development, you know, I want to hire people better than me. I don't feel threatened by having amazing people in my team. In fact, I feel completely kind of calm, the fact that I think, okay, now I got all these experts. And to be honest, we are a very close knit team. So everyone has their area where they do Excel, where they focus with what they're good at. But each of us at any point will step into each other's shoes in a way that's very kind of fluid, and very easy to do. So I think it's the fact that there is this commitment to grow. And I try to not be the first port of call for the business, you know, that I think that's how it possibly was in the past. And now I'm thinking, don't come to me, we've got a brilliant webinar expert, we've got an amazing events person over here, we've got a social media expert, you know, go to those people directly. They know what their vision is, they know what their strategy is, they know when to say no, they know when to say sure I can support you with this, you know, what do you need. So I think it's about giving them the opportunity to be visible to grow to develop, and I'm very committed to that. It's important to me.

Mike: That's fantastic. And I think it's always a sign of a good manager when they start talking about how good their team is. So I'm sure you're too polite to actually say anything, but I'll absolutely say that. I'd like to move on. I mean, unfortunately, Malin, I feel we always have to, you know, visit AI. Lots of people have very different views on AI. I'm interested, how are you currently using AI within your marketing team and for your marketing activities?

Lisa: We obviously, it's a really good question. Because it's a new ik we've only probably been using it for what a year and a half. We started using it a little bit to maybe write some strap lines to write some copy for webinars. But very quickly, it became very samey, and I got very frustrated with it very quickly. So that's out. You can't replace individuality, creativity, understanding the value of the problem. I don't honestly believe for the moment that AI can do that. So I can see straightaway when when the headlines been written by AI, and I can see whether it's been someone in my team or someone in the competitors team. I'm like, Oh, if we see unleash again, I'm gonna literally go. So I think where AI will take us is, it will be like this sort of hyper personalised marketing, it's going to be much more efficient. I can say, tell me the competitive landscape for this kind of technology. And it will tell me in a flash, tell me where who's got the competitive advantage, you know, who's bringing out something new, I mean, to go and search for all that information and put together exactly what you're looking for, I think is super efficient. It's super personalised, it means that we can be much more focused on what we do the customers, I think we go faster. But for me, I'm not scared of AI. I think you go with AI and you develop with AI, you'll be fine. But I think there's always going to be that role for creativity. I mean, AI can't develop something, as far as I know, that's not been created already. Right? You're looking at a pot of stuff that's out there. If you want to disrupt you got to keep ahead of the curve. And I think, for me, I embrace it.

Mike: That sounds really positive, you know, both in terms of the benefits of AI I know also in terms of the fact that you still see this very important, crucial role for people within a marketing team. Yeah,

Lisa: I really do. I think that creativity will always be important. I have seen people's roles kind of feel a little bit eroded though, for example, mostly with around if you look at SEO and Google, I mean, how much do people search on Google anymore? Do they just ask that DPT instead? So I understand that there are threats as well, it's not all rosy. But I think it's just about learning to quickly adapt and find new output for that creativity and make sure that you know, you're, as I say, working with it, rather than against it or feeling too threatened by it.

Mike: No, thank you. That's a brilliant piece of advice. I'm really worth your time. And I know you're really busy. And you've been very generous to spend time on the podcast, there's a couple of questions we'd like to finish off with. And the first one is also about advice. So I'm interested to know what's the best piece of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Lisa: Oh, hang out with the customers without a doubt, just get to know your customers inside out. Every opportunity you can take to understand your customer is going to give you everything you need to be a good marketer, I think it's that insight that you can't replace, don't think you know them, go and actually learn about them. That's always been my best piece of advice.

Mike: I love it, that's quite a popular piece of marketing. Last time we tried to meet up was at a trade show and you're super busy, clearly, you know, actually taking your advice and talking to customers. So So that's brilliant. The other thing, you know, I'm interested in is what about someone starting their career in marketing? What advice would you give them?

Lisa: I mean, you know, marketing is always changing, you know, so I think be adaptable, be flexible. But also, it's never too early to start implementing to start only your go to market strategy to start showing your, your abilities. You know, I don't think you have to stay in a box. But always listen, always listen, start by understanding the customer journey. And I think as long as you go back to my, you know, my last point, as long as you understand that the customer, you can start to really kind of build your influence, build your trust and do it as early as possible in your career. You know, you don't have to have years of experience to make a difference in blockchain. That's what I would say.

Mike: That's amazing. I think that that's, you know, again, it's really positive advice. I love it. As I say, I appreciate your time. Is there anything you feel we could have covered that perhaps I've missed during this interview?

Lisa: I mean, now, I've really enjoyed chatting with you, Mike, I think we've covered all of the important points for me as a marketer. So I think we're good.

Mike: That's brilliant. If people have questions for you, Lisa. Or, you know, maybe they're looking for a place to work where they can grow and develop and get responsibility. What's the best way for them to contact you?

Lisa: I definitely say on LinkedIn, it's where everything happens these days. Anyway, find me on LinkedIn, Lisa Rees for Avnet Silica and connect with me drop me a line more than happy to chat.

Mike: Lisa has been fascinating. I've really enjoyed our conversation. Thank you very much for being a guest.

Lisa: And thank you so much for having me, Mike. It's been a pleasure.

The Latest From the World of Marketing Automation

Join Mike and Hannah as they discuss the latest updates from the world of marketing automation, including the potential acquisition of HubSpot by Alphabet and what this could mean for the platform and insights from Salesforces’ recent world tour.

They also share some best practices for building email nurturing sequences and explain why simplicity may be better.

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

[01:08.3] – The potential acquisition of Hubspot by Alphabet.

[03:35.5] – HubSpot’s new pricing format.

[09:47.1] – The latest updates from Salesforce’s World Tour

[14:41.9] – Best practices when setting up email nurturing campaigns.

Follow Mike and Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode 15 – The Latest From the World of Marketing Automation

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Wherly

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 another episode of malt automation moment. I'm Hannah Wherly.

Mike: And I'm Mike Maynard,

Hannah: and today we discuss how sports pricing changes the Salesforce World Tour. Best practices when Build an Email, nurture and sequences and

Mike: debate whether we think alphabet is likely to buy HubSpot. Hi,

Hannah: Mike, welcome back to another episode of Market automation moment. How are you doing? Because you've just spent what nearly three weeks out in India?

Mike: It's great to be back. And it's really good to be talking to you on the podcast again, had. Yeah, I had two and a half weeks in India, which was absolutely amazing as a vacation, and then straight back and the best part of a week in Germany for a trade show. So a little bit of travel recently. Definitely.

Hannah: And I mean, it's got to be the best part of the week because I was also in Germany with you there, Mike.

Mike: Of course, you know, the first thing I had to do was immediately work with you rather than anyone else in the business.

Hannah: So we have some interesting news. Because alphabet, who is the parent company of Google is actually being rumoured to be looking at acquiring HubSpot.

Mike: I think it's really interesting and potentially really exciting hammer. So I mean, I think obviously, the reason they want to buy it would be the data. Google and alphabet as a whole are fundamentally data companies. And clearly, HubSpot holds an awful lot of b2b data, particularly small, mid sized business areas. So I can definitely see why they want to do it for the data. The interesting thing is, and you and I talk about this a lot when we're looking at campaigns, sometimes it feels like when you're advertising on Google, you're a second class citizen, if you're looking for, you know, small focus b2b markets, because, you know, what Google is all about is massive high volume consumer markets for its search and display advertising. So it makes sense. But I think if it's going to be successful, there's gonna need a bit of a culture change within alphabet to focus much, much more on the b2b side rather than consumer. What do you think? I

Hannah: mean, that's a fantastic point, Mike, because it will be a different kettle of fish for them, if you like they will have to change how they approach and I think one of my key questions is, do you think HubSpot will go for it? Do you think they're willing to be sold? Do you think that actually would seriously consider something like this?

Mike: I mean, it's an interesting question. The rumoured price is around $35 billion as being the market value. figure that's 35 billion reasons to say yes, isn't it?

Hannah: That's a very valid point, a very valid point. And I mean, I think it's interesting, because when I was actually reading up on this rumour, it's seems that alphabet is actually looking for ways to boost its revenue. So you know, it's no surprise, they've got the billions in the bank, but they had actually revealed that their last quarter for advertising sales came in below expectations. So this could be a reason why they're perhaps looking at a different market than they would have before. I

Mike: think we could definitely say that, although the market for b2b tends to be, you know, as we mentioned, much more focused in general, and particularly with the SME business than consumer, so the individual customers they're attracting might be lower value than a lot of their customers are have already. So it's a really interesting question. Well,

Hannah: Mike, I actually want to move on because I don't want to take the mickey but perhaps you know, HubSpot could be considering something like this, because alphabet is going to come in as their saviour because HubSpot have actually introduced a new pricing format. And we would look in obviously, just before this recording, and it is very complicated. They've introduced multiple seats for each of their hubs, they are trying to position it as this amazing concept of allowing more people access. It's lower cost. But I don't think that's true. What do you think?

Mike: I think it's very interesting. I mean, traditionally, most of the marketing automation platforms, they've priced based on things like contacts, so contacts is generally the core thing that drives your pricing. And now if you look at HubSpot, they'll want to charge you extra. If you have more contacts, they want to charge extra if you have more users. And so within HubSpot, you've got to look at you know, effectively three things, probably four things actually to calculate your price. So, the first thing I look at is the number of contacts, you've got to look at the number of users, you've got to look at the tear of subscriptions. So those three things. And then also Fourth thing, you got to decide which elements of HubSpot you want to use because HubSpot now is actually quite complex and has you know, it's not just a marketing automation platform, as we know, it's a CRM, which is you know, actually a very well Use sales, CRM, but also they have service. They have content, they have operations, and they have E commerce. So to actually work out your pricing, they have apps on the website. I'm not sure it's really simplified things. And I kind of feel that what HubSpot is trying to do is gently push up their average revenue per customer by adding additional things that people can pay for, and it kind of feels like it's not necessarily something that's simpler, because it's not purely priced on seats.

Hannah: I think that's some great points. And something I would add to that, Mike, is that I actually feel it could be quite detrimental to marketers, because one of the things we've discussed previously, is, you know, market automation platforms are meant to be used for multiple areas. They're meant to bring together sales and marketing. But if you're pricing those units separately, and these marketers are looking at these prices and going well, I can only afford marketing, I can only afford the sales side, it could actually hurt companies who are looking to do something that has that full solution because they can't afford all of these different units. I

Mike: totally agree. I mean, HubSpot is actually not a cheap product for most people. I mean, I'm also worried about charging per seat. You know, this feels like what HubSpot really should be doing is getting as many people as possible using HubSpot, as familiar with HubSpot as they can be. And then basically having this you know, inherent base in the marketing community of people who want to use HubSpot, I think in the long term that's going to grow the business. My concern is if you start adding costs per person that uses HubSpot, you'll see companies reducing the number of people who actively use the platform. And I think that's a downside for HubSpot, particularly as it's a platform that is relatively easy to use certainly much easier than most other marketing automation platforms. And so, you know, they'd have more people out there promoting HubSpot, if they had more users. It's a risk. But equally, you know, I run a business, I totally get it. If you've got 20 people using HubSpot, you're gonna get a lot more questions, a lot more support required than if you've just got one. So maybe they're looking at it from a cost point of view, and trying to balance out the price people pay versus the amount it costs to service those customers. I can see it from both sides. But it certainly seems to be something that potentially could have some unintended negative consequences, don't you think?

Hannah: Definitely, definitely. And I think it's one we need to keep a watch on. It's something that I'd love to come back to maybe in a couple of months, and just actually get marketers real views on it. This has been something that's been announced quite recently. So it'd be interesting to see what marketers actually think about the change in pricing, and whether hub spots advantages of go in this way has outweighed the negatives. Yeah,

Mike: definitely. I mean, it would be interesting to see how people feel about about the changes, and whether actually it makes HubSpot feel more accessible to people, or whether it just feels, you know, more expensive and more complicated. And I think the risks you always have, I mean, even in b2b where we're supposedly all very logical, we, you know, we look at things we calculate stuff. But when you keep seeing lots of different things, adding to the price just makes that product feel a little bit more expensive. And sometimes a simpler one off price actually feels a bit more easy to deal with. So it's an interesting move from HubSpot. I mean, of course, what might happen and when we think about this, is you may see a lot of other marketing automation platforms start copying the approach and adding cost per users. And if they do that, you know, we can actually all see our cost of marketing automation go up. Or

Hannah: that's a really interesting thought, Mike, because you know, HubSpot is viewed as one of the best, it's a leading platform. And if others do follow suit, then this could be the new pricing model for the next few years. Yeah,

Mike: I mean, it could certainly be the case. You know, we have been lucky that typically, you know, users have been fundamentally free or you've got sets of users. So you've had up to a certain number of users. That's obviously very different. If you look at CRM, where quite often the cost of CRM is price per user. I mean, the other thing to say is that if you look at HubSpot, and obviously for those who are not financial geeks, you have two different ways of costing out whether company makes money or doesn't make money. One is the standard accounting HubSpot actually lost money using that and they people have this, you know, their own way of calculating profit and HubSpot claims they're profitable there. But clearly HubSpot, you know, even with its prospect of getting bought by alphabet for a large amount of money is actually from an accounting point of view not making money. So, again, perhaps are looking to push that price up to make them more profitable.

Hannah: Absolutely. Now, I want to move on from HubSpot for a minute Mike and I just want to move on to Salesforce. So Salesforce have actually just finished up their world tour which obviously makes him sound very awesome. then. But if we drill down into what they were actually speaking about throughout kind of these conferences, it's really interesting. I mean, it's no surprise, they were pushing Einstein AI. But it's interesting because they really are starting to push themselves as more of a data platform. So they have come from being a CRM. But instead they're starting to position this you have come to us, we can provide this data, we use AI to tell you how to improve your campaigns, how to improve your performance. And I think it's an interesting tactic, because it seems that users are flocking to Salesforce to be able to use this functionality. What do you think?

Mike: I totally agree. I mean, I recently wrote a piece for, talking about the issue with sharing data between different marketing technology tools, one of the ways people do in fact, probably the most common way is to use Salesforce as a hub, because a lot of tools have an interface into Salesforce. And this gives Salesforce a very significant advantage. But of course, you know, there, you do have an issue that you're then trying to sync data into a CRM platform, fundamentally a bottom of the funnel tool. And a lot of what US marketers do is top of the funnel, so it's not ideal, but it's certainly something that Salesforce I think, has a real advantage with at the moment. And if they can get Einstein and their AI technology to interpret marketing data better, it could actually be one of the key strengths of Salesforce is, you know, actually being able to pull data together and get insights across a range of marketing technology tools. At the moment, we're all stuck working with little silos of different tools that typically don't interface well together.

Hannah: Absolutely, the one thing I would add is, I do think it runs the risk. And I was reading a piece on b2b marketing, actually, the other day that are we all becoming too obsessed with data. So the one thing I would say is that it's great that Salesforce is doing this, but marketers need to be careful, they're not being swallowed by the quantity of data. And it's the quality. And they're actually looking at the specific KPIs and their specific objectives, to make sure they're using the data to their advantage. They're not just being completely overflowed with data, and not quite knowing how to improve their campaigns. And you know, I haven't used Salesforce Personally, myself. So if you're a listener, please reach out to us tell us how you found the data. But how is Salesforce making sure that quality of data is there. And that is something that I'd be interested to see to unfold.

Mike: I think you're so right there. And I love that point. There's a real danger. And I think this is not just in marketing, but across a whole range of different things. Different disciplines in business, people are taking all the data they have and trying to dump it and people talk about data lakes, and then just throwing AI at it and waiting for insights. And you might get an insight that tells you, you know, for example, how to increase your click through rates for particular types of ads, or what creative tends to generate the most clicks, it doesn't necessarily help you achieve the goals for marketing. Because I think a lot of the issue around AI is its pattern matching around certain things. And it doesn't necessarily, today, understand your marketing plan. Of course, what would be lovely to think is in a year or twos time, maybe we'll be able to give a marketing plan to an AI, and then get it to look at the data and tell you how to get closer to your goals. But you're right today, just throwing data together and going tell me something about it. It might give you something important, but equally, it could give you something that you know really isn't going to move you forward to what you're trying to achieve. Absolutely.

Hannah: And I tell you if in a couple of years time they managed to advance AI that they can recognise the marketing plan. I'll be first in line to use that I'll be first in line. But I think at the moment myself, I'm wary of trust in AI to find the insights for data. And I think definitely so needs that marketer to be heavily involved.

Mike: Yeah, and when we've used AI to analyse data at Napier, it's always been very interactive, hasn't it? Where we've basically use the AI to answer questions about data. And that is incredibly powerful, but it's still, you know, rather than actually running the campaigns and telling you what to do. It's really acting as an assistant almost like your data scientist, rather than necessarily interpreting that marketing plan and then telling you what to do and and fully automating that process. And who knows, I mean, maybe we'll never get there. Exactly,

Hannah: Mike, that we can only wait and see. Now I want to move on to our insightful Tip of the Week. Now one thing I want to speak about is best practices when building email nurturing sequences. So when I'm talking about email nurturing sequences, I'm talking about that automation that workflow side or the Moto automation platform. This is something that I use personally a lot at NAPEO. So we have workflow set up for personas, we have them set up for follow up based on content downloads. We have segmented lists based on where people are based. I think it's such a useful tool. But I think some people can go in and really overcomplicate these things. And I think with these workflows and the sequences, simple is better. Do you have anything to add? Do you have any best practices that you think of when setting up these email nurturing sequences? You're

Mike: so right. I mean, we've seen really effective sequences that are very, very simple. And we've seen incredibly complex sequences that really don't work. And I think, you know, the reality is with almost anything to do with marketing, but particularly around human nurturing, you're thinking about moving people along a segment of their customer journey. And so building a micro journey, just a small part of it, and trying to move from one stage to another just a little step ahead. That's really the way to build email nurturing sequences, trying to build a sequence that takes someone from never having heard of your brand to being your most loyal and committed customer. And it feels like some people try and build a single sequence to do all that. It's just not realistic. And you know, when you say about overcomplicating things, I mean, I've absolutely seen people build overly complex, nurturing flows, were actually down some of the branches of the flows, you get zero contacts. So you've invested a lot of your marketing time and effort to create a branch of that flow, and you get zero benefit. And the implication of that is that you're wasting time. So there's other things you could do with that time, there is a cost in overcomplicating, and people need to be realistic and think about how can we make nurturing flows simpler? And quite often, the secret to that is to break down into smaller steps and build multiple nurturing flows. And I'm sure you've seen that and use that as well, for Napier. Oh,

Hannah: absolutely. I think one key way that we do it and that has been really successful is via personas. And it's not just one email nurturing flow it we use that nurturing sequence. So we have a nurturing flow of specific emails, we then put them in a list, maybe they sit in the list for maybe one to two weeks and then end into another lead nurturing flow. But these are really simple. These has not taken a lot of time to set up, you know, we have the content available. And I think just having that process of how you said of how we're moving them from perhaps an opportunity to conversion is really important to have in mind.

Mike: Totally green, and the email flows you run are super effective. So I know that you've got it optimised. I know that you've got it working. And again, I think, you know, I mentioned optimization, again, optimising three simple flows is actually way easier than trying to optimise one incredibly complex flow. And so, you know, I think the way you do it is absolutely a brilliant approach.

Hannah: Well, thank you, Mike. I think I will just end with one thing is, just remember that these flows are meant to make your life easier. So if they're making your life harder, you were doing it wrong.

Mike: That's perfect advice to end all I love that. Thanks so much.

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 Georgios Grigoriadis - Baresquare

Georgios Grigoriadis, Founder and CEO of Baresquare, an AI-driven analytics platform, discusses his career journey from data scientist to founder and the development of Baresquare. He shares how the tool leverages AI-powered insights for marketing analytics, the challenges and opportunities in B2B marketing, and the potential of AI to empower individuals in marketing rather than replace them.

About Baresquare

Baresquare redefines data analytics by transitioning from traditional dashboards to proactive, AI-powered insights delivered directly to the right person at the right time. Baresquare pioneers a new approach where manual dashboard analysis and human intervention are unnecessary for identifying crucial business events and their underlying causes. This frees marketers, strategists and analysts to focus on creative endeavors and expanding business opportunities while providing insight that no other data set can provide.

About Georgios

Georgios Grigoriadis is a data advocate and the founder and CEO of Baresquare, a tech startup turning data analytics on its head by shifting from traditional dashboard-based analysis to proactive AI-powered insights, delivered directly to the right person at the right time. Fueled by the belief that data should empower, not overwhelm, Georgios built Baresquare to transform complex analytics into clear, useful answers for anyone to understand.

 Time Stamps

[00:46.1] – Georgios discusses what led him to build Baresquare.

[06:11.9] – How can marketeers use Baresqaure?

[06:48.8] – Georgios shares if he thinks the B2C industry is further ahead in using analytics.

[19:47.1] – Georgios offers some marketing advice.

[17:52.4] – Should young people embark on a marketing career? Georgios shares his opinions.

[24:51.9] – Georgios and Mike talk about the future of AI and its impact on the industry.

[31:48.9] – Georgios’s contact details


“Baresquare today is turning data analytics on its head. And, we are not talking in terms of tables and numbers, but rather in terms of words and paragraphs." Georgios Grigoriadis, Founder and CEO at Baresqaure.

“It’s very frustrating when those insights, they don’t find themselves driving action. But action, it’s more a matter of communication. It’s bringing people together and aligning their understanding.”  Georgios Grigoriadis, Founder and CEO at Baresqaure.

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Transcript: Interview with Georgios Grigoriadis - Baresquare

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Georgios Grigoriadis

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 Georgios Grigoriadis. Georgios is the CEO and co-founder of Baresquare.

Georgios: Very happy to be here. Thanks for the invite.

Mike: Great having the podcast Georgios. So just to start off with, can you give us a bit of background about your career, and in particular, I'm interested to know when you move to America and why you decided to make that move?

Georgios: Absolutely. My background is in computer science and math, not an electrical engineer, which I know that it's your background, but still, it's rooted very well in in math and science. But I quickly realised that the most compelling puzzle for me to show was not about gold and algorithms, but rather what makes a product a success. So I have always been fascinated by data, information, and drawing conclusions and the power that those insights and information can have. In hindsight, I think that I was naturally drawn to the stories that data can tell. And as I told you, and the power that they contain, but at that time, my understanding my interpretation of this fascination was on what was possible and not possible with the data that I was available. So as right now we are having this artificiality in intelligence crop yard, where people are putting together some solutions that work and some others that don't. Back in the day, it was exactly the same with data driven tools, approaches and processes. So I was working very much on now, that part of the industry, where today we know these technologies are Adobe analytics, or Google Analytics. And the challenge was how to put together data visualisations that they can drive results. I advocated for verbalising data, it was rather a radical approach where everyone was trying to visualise data. But I did so because I thought that communicating insights with natural language was more impactful. So I moved to London from Greece, and establish that an AI software company and in London, I found out what our positioning was. Now, this is the the point that I moved to New York, while I was trying to discover what should be our go to market approach. And I mean, New York has a very unique vibe, as you know, in a sense, performance under pressure of the melting pot that Manhattan has it's it's more about human skills and creation. And that is making it totally different from the West Coast startup centre. Now that the go to market team has been established in the US, I'm enjoying the Mediterranean climate and cuisine. I am right now. I'm based in Athens, Greece, but this will probably change very soon again.

Mike: Well, having experienced winter in New York, I think you've made a good decision going back to Greece. So certainly for the winter. That's a great move. So lucky. So talk a little bit. I mean, you said you were interested in really explaining data and information in words, how did that come about? And how did that lead to Baresquare becoming a product.

Georgios: So it's very frustrating for people that are putting with a long hours to really understand what they're what data have to say. It's very frustrating when those insights they don't know find themselves into driving action. But action, it's more a matter of communication. It's bringing people together and aligning their understanding. Now, every team every company is having people with different skills, and data and deep data science knowledge is not really a common language. Natural Language is a common language. So at the end of the day, we always had to rewrite what we're finding and take out the detailed data science out of the insight for our misunderstanding. So, at the end of the day, no matter what was the analytical algorithm used to drive the result, the end result was always a couple of sentences, that the more that they communicate that the true meaning of the finding in business terms, the better. So we said, why not just go to the last step, and trying to recreate a new language that is successfully communicating those insights.

Mike: So it sounds like what you're trying to do is almost cut out that data scientist, and let people who need to understand how to use the data, get information delivered in the language they use is that we are trying to do,

Georgios: I would say, this is how we are framing it today. Back then it was more about not having those pressures, insights slip somehow, and a natural language filled, the best way to communicate.

Mike: That's great. So I can see how people would benefit, can you give us some examples of where bare square would be used, and how people particularly marketers might use it to help them in their jobs.

Georgios: Today's turning data analytics on its head. And now we are not talking in terms of tables and numbers, but rather in terms of words and paragraphs, we take their traditional analysis that is done on dashboards, which most of the times is reactive. And we are using these AI powered insights so we can deliver to the right version, on the right moment in time, on the wrong way of understanding. The insight. Shown wereBaresquare has been particularly successful is in companies that are having a lot of data volume and complexity. You see, the more complex the data set, the more we thrive as a platform within that complexity, because that's the pain that we eat is taking out that complicated and bit.

Mike: And so would a good example would be companies that are running large Google Ads campaigns and then trying to track the performance across the website is that the kind of thing people are doing.

Georgios: So typically, marketing analytics is the starting point. But if it is to look at experience from the user side, imagine that one morning you receive a Beresford notification on your phone before you go to work. And the platform is informing you that there was a sudden drop on the conversion rate, let's say 20% on a particular product. And that has a reference point, let's say that the reference point is, since the day before, our AI has investigated the issue and determined that the root cause is a recent price chains on one of your main competitors. That is what have made the product offering less compelling. Now, our platform not only can identify the problem, but also provide recommendations on how to address it. And an easy way of solving this problem is to enable a promotion, that is bringing down the price and making the product compelling again. So that's how an analyst or a subject matter expert, a marketer, if you like they can leapfrog into action in the beginning of the day.

Mike: So that's interesting, because, you know, you're not only integrating over the company's analytics, but you're also looking at competitors pricing. I mean, are you having to integrate with a lot of different packages to pull that data? How does that work?

Georgios: So first of all, it's important to highlight that Baresquare is not collecting data, we don't have a tag, in other words, similar to what Google ads or Google Analytics is doing. And that is because we think that collecting data, it's more or less a solved problem. What we are doing instead is to quickly understand what are their behaviours, see them in a digital journey that otherwise would have been blind spots within the dashboard. And then once we have that, that's our starting point, then we can interrogate many different datasets. For example, we can pull in experience analytics, those datasets that really show where people are having a problem during their digital journey. Also, we have product analytics, or CRM data, which is more about if people are keep on engaging with the digital experience or the product and so on. Now, at some point, and especially with the latest technologies of autonomous, dedicated AI agents, we can really use those little guys to go and gather more contextual information, go and visit the website, see how the website is being rendered on a specific browser. And also, if the product availability of a competitor or the price, or even the weather, a public holiday, a promotional calendar, could also be part of the explanation of the root cause. And that is what is compiling the why as very much people in the analytics world, like to call it to really understand why. But what's very exciting is that now we have a new era that is taking out the subject matter expertise. So even people who are adjusting the beginning of their career or in the beginning of this job engagement, just during the onboarding period of their lives, perhaps they don't really know how they can influence the business goals or the revenue. And this is where an LLM can also provide very detailed personalised next steps on how to cross check the validity of the results, and how really, they can act.

Mike: That's interesting. One of the things I feel compelled to ask is a lot of the examples you you're giving, they feel quite orientated towards the business consumer market rather than B2B market. I mean, do you think the consumer market is further ahead in terms of using analytics? Or do you think it's in a position where, you know, maybe it's easier to get data because there's a lot of online transactions?

Georgios: I think it's because of the second, the B2B marketing still has a lot of ambiguous touch points. And many of these are within the physical world. Let's think of an exhibition, a conference. Now, that part of the experience is not very much digital, or at least not yet. And therefore, there are many of these data points that somehow are being not captured. However, on the other side, what is unique with B2B is the longer sales cycle that happens many of the times, and these touch points, they can very much exist within a CRM database, where in the consumer market, of course, you can have CRM and look into the lifetime value of a customer. But it's less of a complex problem. While in the B2B world, it is very much so. And also, I would say that the element of personalization, it's way more important on B2B Cause the offering needs to align with the narrative of the business, the pain of the business, work with the ambiguity of all of the different data points that we've just talked about.

Mike: That's interesting. So I mean, from that, do you think that actually B2B is got an opportunity in the future, to actually make better use of analytics understand data more, and therefore generate better campaigns? Or do you think that B2B is always going to struggle because of the longer sales cycle and the physical touchpoints?

Georgios: No, on the contrary, I think that companies that are employing B2B marketing will have way more of room to manoeuvre and provide new innovative ways to engage with customers. Taking that back to the example of the conference, think how underutilised The stand can be within a conference, think about how difficult it is to match someone who is interested for technology and a technology vendor and finding about correct person within the organisation that can explain the solution. Exactly for the needs of the customer. This is where personalization can go totally on that on the next level.

Mike: It sounds great. I mean, the one thing I'm wondering now is bare square is actually quite complex. It's pulling in data from a lot of different places and using AI to produce conclusions in natural language. I mean, is this something that that's a really very expensive product? Or is it perhaps more accessible to businesses?

Georgios: Better square is a company about is a startup which means that we are working on our go to market and we have found the best way for us to reach out To the market right now. And it happens to be that the best approach for us is to go for enterprise customers show also our licence and our business model is better optimised for enterprises. However, this is just a go to market approach. And it means that this is where we can prove our value in a better way. It's not to say that it's only that enterprises that they need this type of solution, because at the end of the day, it's also a matter of their reference for an enterprise has an efference point of many analysts, many people who are working with dashboards or complex datasets on a daily basis. However, if we think about smaller organisations, those teams, perhaps they don't have dedicated resources. So in proportion, with the complexity for them that they have to deal every day, it's as Ben, I would say that the application of AI powered insights go across all different types of businesses. And even for us as consumers or people by ourselves, I can totally imagine solutions that are operating exactly with the same logic, and they are applying to our everyday lives.

Mike: I love that that sounds like a bit of a hint as to where you know, possibly in the future, you might go moving from the enterprise level down to more mass market. I'm interested there any other features that you're thinking of you'd like to add to Baresquare, to you know, either help your customers or improve the performance,

Georgios: I would like to take you straight into what excites me the most. And that is, for some reason, session replays. I don't know what kind of beef I unconsciously have with session replay. But perhaps is the facts about where it comes to data collection. And how we are utilising these datasets. Perhaps these technologies that are capturing absolutely every move of the cursor is where I see that we are under utilising the dataset. In a way, I think that is more like a graveyard of data points that are being utilised only as much as people have time to stand in front of a screen. And looking into session replays. Of course, you have already some solutions. The best one that people might know is Microsoft clarity, and their experience analytics platform of rds using GPT technologies to write a quick summary of what happens into that session. However, what I'm flirting with, and I'm talking very strongly with my product team is whether we need to proactively record absolutely every session, or is it something that we just need to do on an ad hoc basis, or even more just employee agents to go and we create a session with all the different paths that a user could take, and then use these NLM technologies just to summarise where exactly that problem became a hurdle for the user.

Mike: That's fascinating. That sounds like not only you're going to save some poor marketers from watching session replay after session replay, which is not the most fun job in marketing. But also you're actually going to be able to preempt those potential problems. If you have the AI navigating around, then presumably you can see problems before even your customers encounter them. Absolutely.

Georgios: I would say that it's definitely something that exists within our roadmap. But then again, going back to the state or for where we are as a technology and what we need to introduce first, I'm afraid that it's not the absolutely next feature that we are going to bring to life. But definitely it's it's the one that could generate this biggest change when it comes to when and how we collect data.

Mike: I love that Georgios. So love the the dreaming about what might be possible in the future, rather than just telling us about an incremental feature enhancements. So that was a great answer. There's a couple of questions we always like to ask people say, one of the things I'm really interested in Georgios says, What's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Georgios: That's a good one. That's an excellent question. Well, first of all, I think that it makes sense to do a little bit of definition of what marketing is. And for some people Will like myself that I was taught marketing in the beginning of early 2000s. Marketing was all about Kotler and the four P's, price, promotion, placement, and product, of course. And then we have the more contemporary definition of marketing, where people these days, they think of marketing as the overall go to market most. So finding the exactly the needs, and matching them with solutions. And this is where tools like the business canvas, that approach and all other contemporary ways that we have to understand the business, they'll notion that I really love the most when it comes to marketing, is thinking of marketing being all about finding ways for people to find him. So I think it applies because both has consumers, buyers or working on on behalf of a company, we really like to have the sense of freewill. Now we can debate on a philosophical level, whether free will exist or not. But we all love that sense, especially in the in the Western world. And always we operate within the limits of our understanding of our current pains and interests. And now we would like to have the sense that we are driving the show, we would like to solve a problem whenever we feel that that problem deserves our time and resources to be sold. And it's only natural if you think about it that in the past few years, we have seen this rise of self serve product lead approaches. So marketing, it's all about discovering where to leave breadcrumbs for the right people to discover you. It's a more natural, organic, perhaps even a respectful and fun way of contacting marketing.

Mike: I love that I love that approach of it's not about pushing it to people, it's about helping them come to you. And I think, you know, that probably reflects a lot of the sort of theories around inbound marketing, for example, that, you know, has been very effective. Certainly, you know, a lot of HubSpot users are really into it. Of course. My other question, George is around advice for young people in marketing. You know, we're very keen at Napier, to get young people into their marketing career. But what would be your advice to a young person if they were wondering whether they should go into marketing or not as their career?

Georgios: This is very relevant. And I'm thinking a lot about it. Just because I have a nephew, who just decided that he would like to go and become a developer, he would like to study computer science. And in the same week that He's declaring that we have Devin AI, just coming in and claiming that something like one out of six different types of tasks that an engineer needs to solve with gold today, perhaps there is an end to end automation for these weights, poses the question, Will marketing still be relevant for people that are young right now and they are kicking off their career? So I was thinking that a lot. And I think that people should absolutely pursue a career in marketing. And let me tell you why. In essence, I think perhaps it's not the popular opinion. I mean, I would love to hear yours. But I think that marketing, it's all about competing over limited resources, it's always going to be there. And people are always going to be competing for finding a better way compared to everyone else, to reach to that audience. So in a way, marketing will never go out of fashion. Perhaps people should be informed about what they think that marketing practices are today, the most certain thing is that those practices will not be the same in the future. But the overall idea, the fact that we try to appeal to words of the limited time and attention that people are having and be better than everyone else, this is going to stay.

Mike: I love that. And I personally think you know, marketing could become a lot more interesting as a career, particularly as AI takes out a lot of less exciting jobs, like sitting and watching session replays a great example of something that I don't think any marketer can say they enjoy, but sometimes you have to do it. So I agree. I think there's huge opportunities in marketing for a career. It's going to be tough. I think it's going to be more competitive, but so well, everything else as AI comes in and impacts it.

Georgios: How do you understand AI and marketing these days, Mike?

Mike: It's really interesting. So our business is actually quite niche. So we focus on deep tech business to business clients. And AI is less effective in very specialist areas like that, presumably, because the training data is much less than in more general areas. So we're using AI in all sorts of different ways. And I think the reality is, is that actually everybody's using AI in marketing, if you're using Google ads, there's AI tools in there that Google have implemented. And I think that's quite a good model. You know, people, when they go to Google ads, don't think about using the AI, they think about using the tool and the AI is kind of hidden away. And it just does good things, it just optimises your ad, and you can be at home sleeping, and Google is still optimising your ad and still using AI. And I think that's a very interesting model going forward that more and more, you know, my belief is we'll see AI as a separate standalone thing disappear. And I actually think what we'll see more and more AI just get buried into tools. And so when you're using a tool, more will be done for you automatically. But you won't think of it as using AI. So definitely, that there's gonna be issue as to how many marketers or computer programmes or anyone else we need in the future. But I don't think AI strength is actually replacing people completely. I think it's replacing people on the very repetitive, the straightforward, the less creative jobs, but I have no idea whether that's you know, 10% of marketers 50% of marketers or 90% of marketers will be replaced, it will be interesting to see.

Georgios: And that is quite a lot to unpack. But if it was to, to offer one thing that I found very compelling in what you said, it's also the the zeitgeist of these days, we think of AI as an entity by itself. And it's, it's crazy, it's like thinking knives as an entity by themselves. It's like if people versus tools or people versus knives is a thing, which is not. At the end of the day, the value is created by people. And it's being accepted, endorsed by other people shown. AI is just just another tool. And of course, this is something that all of us believe, and we rationalise it like this. But when it comes to the most emotional responses, we still respond as if we are talking about a replacement. So I was thinking quite a lot, perhaps we need to start rebranding AI. And thinking it less about technology, and more about a vertical, perhaps, where we unpack the human needs in a very deep way.

Mike: I think that's interesting and probably more reflective of the truth of AI Georgios but I do wonder whether there's so many companies that are trying to sell this dream of AI replacing, you know, as many workers as possible, that actually perhaps overhyping it is in their interest at the moment.

Georgios: And also, I wonder how this could also become a self fulfilling prophecy, the more that we are thinking AI as a replacement. And the more that we start marketing, AI as a replacement, the more it can become a replacement. So a few years back around 2018 2019, I joined a conference when it was all about policymaking in AI. And the discussion was all over the place with the famous, dynamic or far or whatever an autonomous car should do in case of absolutely having only two paths forward killing one person or killing a group of people. There was a lot of debate when it comes to that. But at the same time, Cambridge Analytica was operating, and almost publicly announcing the way that they are breaking down and creating micro segments based on the Big Five ocean cycle metric classification. So those guys were already talking about their methods. And at another point in the world, we are having a discourse when it comes to all what an autonomous vehicle should do. Now, my point here is that there is a matter of sequencing. The next problem that will we'll try to solve or understand or perhaps create a blueprint. And a few years back, we had the option to start thinking about data Schumann Nolan's watch going on with intellectual property. And of course, should be earning some sort of commissions or having at least intellectual property owned or what has been written. And we didn't do that, we still like to be talking about the autonomous car dilemma. And it feels to me that we are doing the same thing right now, we can be just thinking about how to apply AI in such a way that we can enable more people to pursue their dreams, even if they don't have the capabilities. Data driven marketing is a thing, but not all people understand data. And we have people that really would like to change the world. And they have an idea that they would like to communicate to the world. And AI for them can be the absolute tool to overcome their lack of competence. But if we don't think as such, if we don't think about how to roll out these solutions, in a way that we can empower people, and we create more and more narratives of replacing people, then eventually, the solutions that we will create, will be replacing people and making them obsolete. So I think that there is something to be said about that self fulfilling prophecy of AI. If we think it in a different way, the future can be different.

Mike: I think that's super positive and a great way to end the podcast, the thought that, you know, what we should be doing with AI is helping people achieve their dreams, not trying to replace them. And that's what's going to generate the best product. So thank you very much, Georgios, it's been amazing if people would like to, you know, learn more about Baresquare, or, you know, indeed ask you about some of the things you've said on AI, what's the best way they could contact you.

Georgios: Go on the website, This is where we are going to be keeping people up to date with what we are doing. And I'm trying to become more and more active on LinkedIn. With the time that is being allowed to me it focus on that extra version, while at the same time, we are preparing for a really big product launch of our new platform. As I told you, it's trying to enable as many people to go out and explain to the world what they are doing and why they think that there is a solution, product or idea. It's worth the attention.

Mike: That's fantastic. And I certainly look forward to the launch of the new platform. And I'm sure a lot of people that don't enjoy data, but love marketing are looking forward to it. So, Georgios Thank you very much for being on the podcast.

Georgios: 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.

A Napier Podcast Interview with Stefan Debois - Pointerpro

Stefan Debois is the CEO and Co-Founder of Pointerpro, an assessment software that allows users to produce surveys and highly personalised automated reports. Stefan joins the Marketing B2B Technology podcast for a discussion on how the software works and how it can be leveraged for marketing and lead generation.

About Pointerpro

Pointerpro is an all-in-one assessment software platform where users can create online questionnaires and surveys that auto-generate personalised advice and reports into PDF.

About Stefan

Stefan Debois has a background in engineering and has over 15 years’ experience in Enterprise Software. Stefan’s experiences are foundational to Pointerpro, which he co-founded in 2012.

Time Stamps

[00:50.2] – Stefan shares what led him to co-founding Pointerpro and what the software does.

[08:41.2] – Stefan explains how Pointerpro can be used for lead generation.

[11:42.5] – What is the future of Pointerpro?

[17:43.4] – Stefan shares what marketing tactics are used to promote Pointerpro.

[22:50.2] – What is the best piece of marketing advice you’ve been given?

[24:45.3] – Where to go for more information and Stefan’s contact details.


“Double down on what works instead of trying to experiment with new things all the time. That doesn't mean that you don't have to do experimentation…but don't fall into the shiny new object syndrome… double down on what works.” Stefan Debois, CEO and Co-Founder at Pointerpro.

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Transcript: Interview with Stefan Debois - Pointerpro

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Stefan Debois

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 Stephen Debois. Stephen is the CEO of PointerPro. Welcome to the podcast, Stephen.

Stefan: Thank you for having me, Mike.

Mike: It's great to have you on. And we're talking a little bit about this later. But actually, it's really interesting. You're actually the CEO point Pro, we've recently signed up as a customer appointed Pro, like the product so much, we wanted to get you on to talk about the product. But before we dig into point Pro, perhaps we can just find out a little bit more about your background, Stephen. So can you tell me a little bit about your career?

Stefan: Yeah, sure. My educational background is engineering. I started immediately after my studies in consulting, and that's where I stayed for about 15 years. I think I started with Price Waterhouse, in 98. That's a long time ago, and then became Price Waterhouse Coopers. And then I switched to CSC, a computer science Corporation, which is now called the exceed or I mean, in that industry does quite a lot of mergers, and so on. Yeah, in consulting, I was mainly involved in large scale ERP implementations, like ERP, like management systems for companies like SAP and the like. And we did implement those systems with large multinationals like Nestle, or Atlas, Copco, and similar kind of company. But then I always had the feeling, or the wish to do something myself to start a company as an engineer to create a product and also create a company around that product. And then, of course, as I was, like, professionally involved with software, enterprise software, and that became the most logical choice also, back then, a lot of the barriers that you used to have to start a software company were becoming less important, like you didn't have to buy your own servers, everything goes via the cloud cloud, and no expensive software, because a lot of development software was available open source.

Mike: And that's interesting. And you've decided to start a company in Belgium and obviously, because you live there, but how is the startup culture in Belgium? I mean, it's not necessarily as renowned as somewhere like Berlin, is it for startups?

Stefan: No, that's true. But it's not that bad. Sometimes complain a lot. But there's a lot of initiatives to support startups, sometimes you have to find which initiative fits you the best. But even back then, talking about 14 years ago, we participated in an incubator programme from KBC. That's a large Belgian bank. And I mean, it's a huge, huge benefit for us, like boats, network, talking to people that have done certain things before, in different areas, legal, commercial, everything. But also just having the office space having, if you go to the coffee machine, that you have someone to talk to, it can sound maybe a small thing, but I think it's important, versus before we were just at home, and the two of us, me and my co founder, and then yeah, we didn't have these kinds of interactions. So I'm gonna say this. Since then the startup culture in Belgium has evolved to has become more like, more professional for the people who consider to start and would not, I would say that this should not be a barrier to start in Belgium.

Mike: That's nice to hear. It's good that Belgium is putting effort to supporting startups. So let's move on to talk about PointerPro, you mentioned you wanted to start a company based around software development. What led you to decide to found point a problem in what drove you to look at research and surveys?

Stefan: Yeah, so first, I wanted to start something in the area of CRM, customer relationship management, because it was close to my experience as a consultant. And then I started doing some research about that. And then I saw like that it were like, a lot of competition in that area. So I gave up on that ID. But in the meanwhile, I started something else just to, like, get used to the state of the art technologies again, because I'm an engineer, but technology as of course, you've often so I started like a quiz app, just as I'll be project to get used to the new programming languages and everything. And that was to call tablet quiz. It was also like the start of the iPad. So quizzes for iPad with like a nice visual, making use of all the possibilities of the iPad, I launched as Yaffe free products and that's got some traction, not only from people who want to make a queries about her grandmother or so but also from professional companies, for example, us that used it for HR events and all the things after a while, and after also talking to these people, we decided to launch it as like a formal company. And then we called it survey anyplace that was the name before. PointerPro, of course, because it was like, besides quizzes, we want also to focus on surveys, and combination of quizzes and surveys. So then that was when the company started.

Mike: And so now, I mean, PointerPro does a lot more, doesn't it, it does a lot more than just do surveys and quizzes.

Stefan: Yeah, exactly. So with the surveys, we, I think we had a good start, because we want to make the surveys more interactive, and more like, we want to improve the experience from the respondents. And then also, as a result, get better and more data. For the ones that organise the survey. And beginning we had some traction went well. But then after a while, we have seen that there was a lot of competition on that market. It's kind of a commodity survey or survey software. So we knew, according to the startup logic, that we had to find a niche that we had to find product market fit, so not just surveys of everybody, sometimes you try, like a certain thing that you want to do, and that you only see that it's not working, then you have really invested some that some time and effort in it. That's why it took from 2012 to 2019. So seven years, that's a long time. I mean, of course, we had customers as well, but the Dakotas, not really spectacular 2019 VM, we have editor, he bought a functionality so that you don't have like only questionnaire. But that's after having completed the questionnaire, that respondent gets a customised report like a personalised report depending on the answers that he or she has given in the questionnaire. And those that was really the killer functionality, or the combination of those two, the questionnaire and report that we needed to find that product market fit.

Mike: That's fantastic. And I mean, just to explain to people what the report does, can you give us some examples of how your customers are using this reporting function? What are they actually doing with it?

Stefan: Yeah, yeah, for example, the common goal is always to automate it twice. Before we deserve it was more like data collection. But now it's to collect the data, that's a first step. But then the data is used to get some, or to extract some customised advice. Like, for example, financial advice, we have a customer of ours, where's the website, free financial It's worth looking at it, it's us customer. And there's financial assessment, you enter your data, like your income assets and other details. Now you get the personalised financial advice plan, which can say like, you have to go for this kind of investment, or that kind of investment ends on that quite details. And of course, in that plan, there's also links to other third party vendors who can help you and to implement that advice. So that's one example. Although examples are like cybersecurity, maturity assessments, but also HR. Some assessments have often asked year to date HR, but HR is a minority, but still an important use case like wellbeing assessments, psychological assessments, and so on.

Mike: And I think one thing a lot of companies are doing in the B2B sector is they're using these on my reports or diagnostics, to actually generate leads, it's all about lead generation, isn't it?

Stefan: Yeah, in fact, we have both lead generation for I mean, our main focus for customers is professional services, it's still quite bold, and professional service companies can use it for lead generation Yeah, before to give it to a prospect before someone is becoming a customer, then you can also use it during project delivery, to automate the advice delivery. But the degeneration is an interesting use case, in marketing, I think we have two trends, you have a trend towards a content marketing, like give more educational content to your customers. And then in that way, you educate them and you are seen as, as an authority. That's one trend. And the second trend is personalization. I think, like thanks to data and all the information that you have about your audience, like to try to personalise the message as much as possible. So the assessments are really at the crossroads of those two trends, I think, because you give content. So when, for example, a cybersecurity assessment is on the website of of a consultant that is specialised in that area. People can also the question to invest some time, but they get some useful content in return, which is valuable and which also builds trust. So if your content and secondly I've also the personalization because you don't have That's the advantage against like, a generic white paper about cybersecurity. If I if as a business owner to read the white paper, but like 20 pages about cyber security, I'm not that interested in comparison to when I have like a one pager that says, okay, based on your answer, these are the three things that you have to focus on cybersecurity, and that's exactly what we want to do with our tool.

Mike: I think that's a great point, Stefan, I think that hugely personalised advice. I mean, traditionally, people would have done that by getting a survey, and then having somebody you know, manually go through, make the recommendations, maybe even meet with the client, now it's automated. And it's a really good way, I think, from my point of view, of helping people move along that customer journey a little bit quicker, by automating some of the stages that would have slowed down. So you know, when somebody is in that mindset about talking about their problems, then getting almost immediately some answers. So I really love that I think it's a great feature points Pro.

Stefan:  Yeah, thank you. Yeah, we call it sometimes like, it's fast onboarding, but also like in bits consulting, talk, time to business value, reduced time to business value, what you hear a lot about consultants from from customers is that it takes too long to get results really. And then like this initial face, like the collection of the SS situation, as we used to call it like the current situation, collection about data like and then also giving the first most straightforward advice. That can be of course, shortened thanks to a technology thanks to our tool.

Mike: Absolutely. And what about the future? I mean, is this the direction you see point a pro going in are some features that you know, you're planning to add to enhance the performance?

Stefan: Yes, of course. So when our product vision is that every professional service company that in the future, will offer services to its customers, of course, but besides the services, we also offer a digital tool to their customers, like a kind of portal that a customer can use to log in, and that they can use to do three things, basically do self assessments, to get a personalised advice, and to monitor their performance. So that's easy to say. But we are far from that. If you look at reality, where the consultants are, I mean, we are also customers, from various consultants in various areas. And those except for Deloitte, there is nobody that really has a bottle with like this kind of information that I can use to follow up these things to get advice, and so on. So there's still a lot of work to do. So we want to help to reach that vision for the consultants More concretely, in our product, I think, especially for the performance monitoring, we still have some work to do. So we are going to work on the dashboarding, where the content of the dashboards will not only contain information from the assessments, but also from third party sources, because we see that sometimes the information has to be combined, the assessment is not the only source. So that can be done via professional services also by the customer. That's important. And that's the second important thing is integration, like integrations with other systems. We can do we already do it now. But we want to do it more. Yeah, easier. No coach, so that you can do it without an IT guy or girl. I mean, not that we don't like it. But mostly it's it, it slows down the process so that anybody can integrate our point of sale system will be their internal systems. That's the second thing that we are working on. And then the third thing is also AI. Of course, we think that this will be part of every software tool in the future, including ours to increase productivity from the users. And we see it especially in kind of an assistant, when you're making the assessment and also the report that it can assist in not only the content, but also design. For example, it could look at the design of your website, and you say like, Okay, I'm going to apply the design to the report. And then maybe it's it's 8% Ready, and then the 20 remaining pulsant has to be done by a human, but then still you have huge time gain, of course, thanks to AI. So that's what we're also looking into.

Mike: I love those features, I think like they're, you know, really interesting. And the idea of being able to recreate these diagnostics and reports even more quickly, I think would be super useful. I mean, one thing I'm interested in is, you know, you've mentioned that a lot of your businesses in the consultancy sector, what we're seeing with clients is a lot of product companies are actually trying to really grow their consultancy business. And so that they're they're moving away from being you know, purely driven by selling things and much more about you know, selling their knowledge and expertise. Are you seeing this and are you seeing this also drive more interest from you know, what might be seen as engineering or manufacturing industries? Yeah.

Stefan: What I see I mean in software Companies like like ours, like product companies. And these are not manufacturing companies because we don't make physical things. Of course, what I see is that customers are more and more asking, like for combination of software and services, because I'm convinced the software on itself will not generate any business results as a standalone thing. I mean, you have to activate it, you have to make sure that your users are using it in the correct way. And I mean, of course, you can automate, but you still have to do often some, some services. And then like traditional companies, and then I was in consulting those big companies like SAP and other software companies, but you see now with Salesforce and even in tufts, but also, they do it with partners. So they say, okay, partner, and as a service, and we do the software. And it's been you usually beneficial for those companies, because it allows them to scale. If you have the partner network, you don't have to worry about or services, the partners can do it. And you can focus on as often are we as small company, I mean, we cannot yet afford like such a Partner Network. Also for partners, our software is too small to earn, like a lot of money. So then we tried to do the services ourselves. But these are only the services that are directly related to our software, we are not going to advise on content like on cybersecurity assessment, which questions to ask. So because we are not specialists, our customers are specialists, or we don't want to take over the job of our customers. Of course, I'd like more technical things or design or so we do it also for them. And to have it all in one, that offering has been beneficial for us. Maybe there's also like competitors who are not self funded. Or more under pressure of VCs. VCs don't like services, or they only like, like 10% or so services. And those VC looking over our shoulder so we can do as much service as we want or I mean, we can do it independently.

Mike: That's really interesting, actually, because you're absolutely right. I mean, with startups, VCs are very reluctant to fund startups that are service driven, because they said it's not being scalable. But when you get large, established enterprises, you know, multibillion dollar corporations, they're all moving into the service industry. So it seems to be an interesting time where large companies want to get out of products and small companies want to get into them. I mean, thank you for talking a lot about pointer price stuff. And I'm interested in some other things as well. So I mean, one of the things that fascinates me is when we talk to guests on the podcast, is how they approach marketing. And I'm really interested from your point of view, what are the most effective tactics for promoting point a pro

Stefan: Traditionally, when we started, we have always focused on inbound marketing. So meaning that people find you online, and then come on your website and then see your offering and are interested and get in touch with you and then you can convert them into customer. So in my marketing, more specifically, search boats, organic search, when you just started, just like in the beginning, then it was more like personal network. That is what I would advise also to, to other starters. So personal network to add some large logos, hopefully you have some then in your network, and you can convert them. So we had, for example, big Belgian bank here as a customer in the early days. Now you use that to go beyond your network, because it's important to go beyond your network pretty quickly. Because that proves that you can really make a business on top of it. And then yeah, we started as I said to be content marketing, slash SEO, search engine optimization. Back then it was maybe easier than now I mean, comes more difficult, of course, but we get some traction organically. And then afterwards, when we started the assessments in 2019, the value of our licence or high school became higher, then became worthwhile to do and paid advertising also, especially Google AdWords, some, some other other channels, also, Captiva for software vendors creating interesting, but then the combination of the two organic search, then paid search and then also like the third one is online presence, like for example, on Capitol Hill on G to this review site, and also on all the publications that you are like, literally everywhere, if you type like assessment software that you're in the page results in organic results, and also on third party sites, like tryptophan and Jeetu. That's where we want to be but then of course also other channels that you're looking into now. We already doing those because we are quite dependent on inbound and there is also like it's not infinitely scalable, because there's only so many searches per month on on those keywords which are interesting for us. So now we are trying to do two additional channels like top of funnel more brand awareness and making sure that people know us before they need us. It's easier said than done. So that's the first one. And the second thing is on our existing customers trying to expand. For example, if we have Deloitte, Netherlands, as a customer tried to sell it also in the other countries for Deloitte presents, it would be a pity not to do that if you have these kind of customers, it's easier to get business in existing customer than always having to acquire new customers.

Mike: I love the way you know, obviously, as an engineer, you structure that approach to marketing. And I think it's great that it's a very structured sequential approach and very interesting, really useful lesson for people.

Stefan: Yeah, thank you. Yeah, we try to also measure everything. That's the advantage of course of digital marketing. We try to measure everything like the funnel, the conversions, and so on, depending on the source. That being said, we will also try to do some non digital things like I don't know if you have heard of Jason Lemkin, in one of his podcasts, he talks about 10 marketing tactics that you should apply. And, to our surprise, we almost did none of them. The tour that we are going to do now is one that he said like is do weekly webinar. And do it about you're not only about your product, I mean, sometimes about your product, sometimes about something like which is related to your product, but not immediately about your product. But do it weekly, we do it not bi weekly because of capacity constraints. And does matter if there's only five attendees or so just do it consistently. Okay, for us it of course, we put it on YouTube, and we can do content, repurposing it all the types of content. So that's one thing that we are doing now. And the second thing that we want to do, and that is a non digital thing is what he says is organising steak dinners. It doesn't have to be steak. If you have some customers who are vegetarian. It can also be other kinds of dentists. But face to face, dentists, just small scale restaurants, up to three prospects and three customers together on a table together with of course, someone have a point of poor and no formal presentation, you can give some more informal presentation about the whole map. And that always works. And I also know it from my previous company from a consultant when you put prospects together with customers, it always works. Of course, you have to take happy customers, but otherwise it will not come and you invite them to stick them. So if you if your candidate we can we can have next. Can you on the next stage? Denisha

Mike: Oh, I love that. That's, that's great. I really appreciate you giving us your time. Stephen, there's just a couple of questions, we'd like to ask everybody at the end of the podcast. And the first one is what's the best bit of marketing advice you've ever been given?

Stefan: Probably need to double down on what works instead of trying to experiment with new things all the time. And that doesn't mean that you don't have to do experimentation, I think we also do it. But yeah, don't fall into the shiny new object syndrome. And most of the effort should go to double down on what works I think I

Mike: thought you were gonna say that it's more nice restaurants. But so that's great advice. I love that double down on what works. I remember the last question is, if you're talking to a young person that was thinking about a career in marketing, what would your advice be,

Stefan: probably get some knowledge about technology, and even programming. But programming also, I mean, also didn't didn't know, quote, tools to design your own application, before getting into marketing and to create something yourself, maybe solving a personal problem or something else, and then go into marketing that will give you an additional advantage, I think so gets a little bit familiar with technology first. And then you go into marketing doesn't of course mean that the basic principles of marketing, like with digital marketing, the basic principles of like knowing your customer, and also this move towards content marketing and try instead of trying to sell your product. Those principles are still very important. But I would Yeah, if you have the chance to get familiar with technology before, I would recommend.

Mike: That is great advice. And I'm also previously was an engineer, so anything to do with technology is a good thing. Stefan, I really appreciate it's been fascinating. We're really excited at Napier. We're fairly early on in our journey with PointerPro and trying out some projects but you know, things that great if anyone listening to the podcast would like to try point Pro or find out more would be the best place to go. Yeah,

Stefan: for PointerPro is the website, point You can, of course, try it out. You can get a demo. You can also find information about modern underlying principles about how to automate your consulting. We have blog, articles, testimonials, and so on, that you can explore. And when you want to find out about me or get in touch, then you can also use LinkedIn and just find it through my name Stefan Debois. I will be happy to get in touch with listeners to help or to exchange experiences.

Mike: Stephen, I really appreciate it's been a fascinating conversation. Thank you very much.

Stefan: Thank you 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.

A Napier Podcast Interview with Emir Zecovic - CMO

Emir Zecovic, an experienced marketing professional in the B2B and SaaS space, joins Mike for a discussion about how to market B2B technology products.

Emir highlights how marketers often miss opportunities by not focussing on large non-English speaking markets like South America and India. He shares why marketers should be data-obsessed to understand what influences the buying journey, and why working within start-ups may offer new marketers greater career opportunities.

About TextGrid, 12min and OpenGraph

TextGrid offers communication APIs for SMS, MMS, voice and email. With cloud communications, businesses are empowered to build, scale and innovate.

12min is a platform that chooses, reads and summarises the most important non-fiction books.

OpenGraph generates meta tags and social media previews for any URL on the web in a few simple steps.

About Emir

Emir Zecovic is CMO at 12min and is currently also in transition between roles as CMO at TextGrid and Senior Business Development Consultant at OpenGraph. He is a determined, data-driven and versatile marketer with over 7 years of experience in managing teams, devising and implementing growth strategies for SaaS B2B and B2C companies.

Time Stamps

[00:51.1] – Emir shares how he got to this point in his career.

[04:46.8] – Emir discusses why it is important not to overlook non-English speaking markets.

[08:49.7] – Emir shares his approach to marketing as a CMO.

[16:27.0] – How does Emir encourage form fills?

[20:26.8] – What impact is AI going to have on the industry.

[23:58.1] – Emir offers some career advice to new marketeers.

[26:42.9] – Emir’s contact details.


“Trying to be as international as possible in a business is always a good idea, don't underestimate countries you're not familiar with.” Mike Maynard, Managing Director at Napier.

“I've heard people say that they don't like Google Ads or Facebook ads or SEO, but I doubt anybody has ever said that they regret having a good email list” Emir Zecovic, CMO at 12min.

Follow Emir:

Emir Zecovic on LinkedIn:

TextGrid Website:

TextGird LinkedIn:

OpenGraph Website:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Interview with Emir Zecovic - TextGrid/OpenGraph

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Emir Zecovic

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 Emir Zecovic. Emir is currently in transition as we record so he has been working at text grid. But now he is moving across to a new position at OpenGraph. So we're going to have an interesting conversation with him about how to market B2B technology products. Welcome to the podcast, Emir.

Emir: Thank you. Glad to be here.

Mike: Great to have you on. So I mean, obviously your career is in a bit of transition. But can you just tell us you know how you got to this point now in your career?

Emir: Yeah, it's actually an interesting start. So probably you saw on Lincoln, I was born in sculpin. Nord must Estonia. Honestly, nothing about the background was nothing hinted that I will be interested in marketing, just how it happened. I started studying and got interested about when I was 20. And I started doing freelance work and got very interesting. And somehow I don't even know how I got involved with 12 Min, which I'm also there as the CMO. The tolzman actually was founded by Devo Gomez, who is currently the founder of rock content, the biggest B2B SaaS company in all Latin America, somehow promoted to the chief marketing role after two or three years, three years if I'm not wrong, and it just took from there. Meanwhile, I did four, I actually got my master's degree from University of Sheffield. Actually, it didn't travel to the UK for that, because they have international faculty presence in almost, if I'm not wrong, in Bulgaria, Greece, Serbia and Romania. But maybe I'm wrong for some of the countries. And I don't want to dwell too much on that. Because at the end of the day, it's more like practice. I don't think that the formal education has a huge role or anything of the kind. But it was a great experience. Actually, I learned a lot while it shuffled specifically. And right now I'm here. I don't know. It's kind of interesting. I was like to work at to play someone. I love, b2c, and B2B. So that's why I currently have kind of like two roles. It's fun. I don't know, I don't know why else would they did. Definitely fun.

Mike: That's awesome. I mean, you mentioned 12 Min. So let's just, you know, look at that for a minute. I understand that that's a bit like Blinkist, which might be a more well known brand name to our listeners, because I think our listeners are generally North America and Europe. But tell tell me a little bit about 12 Min.

Emir: Yeah, actually, we are direct competitors. So blinkers we kind of started at the same time, if from what I know, Linkous currently is more focused on US and Germany, while we are more focused on South America and Central America, are also expanding, we have us burners, which is great. It actually was founded in 2017, early, like I said, by Guillermo Gomez, who is also the founder of rock content, a huge company very successful one. And it it kind of, I believe, he was looking for ways to read a lot of books, which sounds a bit cliche, but that's exactly how he got the idea. And at that time, he couldn't find anything in Portuguese, or or in Spanish. So he thought, okay, maybe this will be a good idea. I don't know if at that time blinkers was already established, I think yes, if I'm not mistaken. But Pokemon started primarily for the Brazilian market and then moved Spanish and got to English. And now even the our English bases expanding. And we're also looking there to go into B2B, which is also very possible. And it requires a different set of strategy altogether. It's very different than just selling high ticket software, compared to 1000s. of subscriptions. And I don't know if you know, the but the average subscription price on the stores is $40. So I'm you cannot go super high. Like I would say the top markup that you can sell in in countries like Singapore, or the US, which are, let's say, more prosperous. It's 70 to $80 Max, and you have to be very careful what you're doing developing countries and so on. It really depends on the market.

Mike: That's fascinating. And I think, you know, it highlights something that perhaps people like myself who come from an English speaking country, sometimes we're not so aware of what's going on in other countries, particularly if it's not an English language product. And certainly South America is a gigantic market. And I think all too often overlooked.

Emir: Oh yeah, absolutely. And I'll just give you an insight. Do you know the average cost per click mean the difference is 10 to one compared to the US and sometimes even 15 to 108 If you compare, in Great Britain, it's in my opinion, it's even more expensive than the US for some industry. So you can compare that. If you have a conversion rate, that's two times less than what you have in first world countries, so anything from Germany to the UK or US, you can make a tonne of money and the profits, the profit margin is much greater actually, even though it sounds counterintuitive, but the sheer competition in in the US, for example, is crazy. You get high conversion rates, but you also get good lifetime value, whether you're going into B2B or b2c, but the acquisition costs for both of them are super high. Like I remember when we were running ads for things where it's for classic comparison based landing pages with highest, okay, someone might disagree, but they're one of the best converting landing page models out there. Without a doubt, at least in my experience, the average cost per click was $20. If you do the same thing in Brazil, is between 0.5 and $1. In the conversion rates, the conversion rates are somewhat similar with the US having two to one advantage. Now, of course, your order value, if you're running an E commerce shop, or you're providing service of any kind, is going to be lower, you cannot charge the same rates. But just the verified is 20 times cheaper to advertise, it already gives you a huge advantage. So you can you can adjust the price to fit the market, of course, but the advertising costs allow you room to lower your service fees, or I don't know, whatever you're selling, give ecommerce or even a software. So it's a it's an advantage, especially Brazil with with one with 200 million people.

Mike: That's a great point. I mean, I love that I think trying to be as international as possible in a business is always a good idea. And don't underestimate countries, maybe you're not familiar with.

Emir: Absolute in India is also a situation where I think everybody who misses out on India especially or Bangladesh, is missing out on a lot good conversion rates, very low cost per 1000 impressions for both Facebook and Google ads or anything else, for that matter. Yeah.

Mike: And that's a great point, too. I think, you know, there are other markets that perhaps people tend to underestimate. I'd like to move on to where you're going to see, you're moving to Open Graph, I'm not sure that, you know, all our listeners will be familiar with that company. So can you just briefly describe what the company does?

Emir: Yeah, I don't know if they're familiar with the Open Graph, man attacks, which were built in the early 2000s, and tense while I was still in high school, but it allowed that preview function of sharing information, like for example, if you wanted to share an article on Facebook, or Twitter or YouTube, it gave that metadata, you just extracted the metadata from a website or from a link. And it just made things a lot easier. So you can scrape the web, you can do all sorts of things in a much more efficient way, then I don't know then if you try any alternative use, but if they Google, for example, what's an Open Graph meta tag, they will understand just by the preview of how it would look if you remove the metal tags of a link or if a website, so OpenGraph does that.

Mike: That makes sense. And I think, you know, we probably don't need to dig too deep into exactly what the company does. What I'm really interested in as you as a marketing executive going in and looking to drive the marketing strategy, when you started a company or when he even you look at a new year. I mean, how do you approach building a marketing plan as a CMO?

Emir: I think the first thing that, for example, I never heard anyone say especially not in Marketing School, and not even at shovel that you have to be data obsessed, and other main data drives kind of like cliche, I mean, literally obsessed with, we always use this analogy. It's like being lost in the Amazon forest. And unless you're nowhere you're going, you better not move anywhere, you better stay where you are. So the price you might pay if you don't know where exactly you're going is higher than if you just stay where you are. So the first thing that I always do is I obsessively analyse the data. And by that I don't mean just the marketing. I mean, the business data. So you have how many touchpoints to conversions. What's the average lifecycle? Well, how many months days weeks does it take for a product qualified lead to get to a sales qualified position from a sales qualified to actually become a client? And I'm trying to find patterns? Where exactly what where's the elephant in the room? So for example, if you were to Google Open Graph, you would notice that in this you're gonna find his data but I'm saying the traffic like most most of the traffic is run through ads. So you have definitely a problem in the top of the funnel, it's very clear. So you have huge opportunity there. Next, you can move on. And there you think about how the the lifecycle goes, What's the conversion rate on the page, what actually, if someone converts from what was the previous page from where they converted, to become, let's say, subscriber to the newsletter or anything else, for example, we we have a sort of a freemium model, which is you have a free service, but we try to convert you slowly nurture you, and then push you into the one of the two paid plans. But it's not always the case. For some businesses, the main priority is a call immediately, you need a call, ASAP. So I would say, my way of doing things is always, at least in the first week or two, if more is needed, that's fine. Just obsess over the data and tried to find issues. And I mean, all sorts of issues from the top of the funnel all the way to the bottom, what channels are being used, was the performance. And especially if there are data problems, whether that's the the forces of data, where's the data stored, or there's, like, I don't know, if you notice, but the most common problem, for example, is in which is kind of so the little bit is tracking, where we will always find the same problem, the tracking is wrong, you would think everybody would be focused on tracking, make sure that the solid, no errors, but it's not the case. And if you have tracking problems, my advice, put the 110% into, into fixing it as soon as possible. So that's, that's how and then from that point onwards, I usually would go with my round and square the huge Board have everything that they found, and I started crafting my plan. Based on the resources, of course, sometimes you just cannot do what you want to do. Because there's there are limited resources, so you have to take that into account. But I would attack first the low hanging fruits. And I can give you an example, in SEO, you go away, and you have, let's say 510 15 keywords that rank from position 10 to 20. Those are low hanging fruits, you go there, you improve the content. And those things rank in two, three months. So my strategy first and foremost, is to attack the low hanging fruit. While we are working on the, let's say, not long term, but like midterm strategy, which I would say it's between three to six months. And the that's usually how I divided zero to three months, three to six months and long term six plus. And but first you target the looking for so that you get the most possible in the shortest time possible.

Mike: I love that, you know, going for quick wins, I think is always a good strategy. And it kind of clears away some of the things you could do and actually focus on perhaps some of the more difficult tasks. I'm interested when you're you're building a plan, do you look to use his broader mix of tactics as possible? Or do you feel that there are some primary tactics that really worked well for you? And that those are kind of your go to things?

Emir: Yeah, that's a amazing question. I love that. I've been debating that with people in the industry for so long. I remember I was reading an article maybe two or three months ago that said, and correct me if I'm wrong, it is. But I think that the email has 29 to one return on investment compared to paid advertising. I'm trying to say that, if there's anything that has proven to never fail, is that you need to build your email list. Now, I'm not saying that's the only way or the only focus. But if there is, any channel that you can never fail, if you do it right is definitely the email. I mean, we always look for shiny object syndrome. So let's say what AI can do, or what that can do, or this can do. Email never fails, the average person opens their email at least 10 times a day. It's a channel that they prefer. It's a preferred method of communication, especially in in B2B, I will always use a broad approach. So I would I would split them between inbound marketing and outbound see where we can go with cold. But the problem with cold outreach is that at some point, it eventually just hits a wall cannot scale more. You can always expand the persona or build a new one, you have different products. Some companies don't have that. Now if you're an electrician and other know if you do something other on the side. Yeah, maybe you can expand and then instead of targeting just one group, you go after another but if you're running just one product line or division, you certainly will hit a wall at some point. And then the question is what now? But if you have an email list, I don't I've never I've heard people say that that they don't like Google ads or Facebook ads or SEO. But if nobody has ever said that they regret having a good email list. There has never been such a As in history, so there's a reason for that is a reciprocal relationship because you're giving something for free in exchange of the user did. They don't feel like you're selling something to them? You're nurturing them. So it's reciprocal. We're not asking for something while giving nothing in return, so as long as you provide something of value, of course, they're going to reciprocate. And that's something that they found it works crazy. Well, to be honest, the only I've never said that's the only strategy far from it. But I'm saying, if you're building your email list, by very definition, you also need to work on paid ads, conversion funnels, data, front, and of course, you need to optimise the landing page copywriting, it just carries with it. Five, six different, completely different areas. In lead gen demand gen, all of that. You just create so much work. But if you nail it, I didn't doubting that anyone has ever said that they regret building their email list.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, I think that's great advice. Obviously, the challenge is really building that that list and getting the tactics right to encourage people to sign up. So I'm interested in how you do that, how you actually encourage people to fill in that form or to hand their details over so you can actually add them to the list. Do you have approaches for that?

Emir: Oh yeah, absolutely. Till 2020. Most of the companies, both in b2c and B2B use to one step approach. So what you do is send them to a page, you try to create as much value as possible to Beijing in exchange for their information. This is public knowledge, but I'm going to share something with you, we have something called the bread crumbs approach, which is 20 steps, our average landing page to lead currently is 35%. The average industry is like four or 5%. Of course, it requires testing, I'm not saying everybody should have 20 days, but a good test would be like this. So let's say you have four elements on the forum. So you have name, email, phone number, and I don't know maybe something else, but let's say company, email, or whatever, it's whatever is mandatory. But if you flip that with four steps, which means four separate steps, not all in one form, and the US first for the less intrusive ones. So it could be like, what's your name? Or where do you work with or what's your age, whatever, it's an issue. So as long as a person commits more, it will psychologically make them commit. Further, as you demand more personal things. So let's say their phone number, or their email, or maybe some company information. So what we generally use, and what I would advise is that whatever is the most difficult thing to ask, leave it for less. So as long as they invest in the form, in our case was the Select plan. So if you want, for example, let's say if you have a if you're running a b2c, this is the same actually with B to B. But if your conversion model is most of the sales happened between zero and three days, for example. So you need them to convert past. So how do you do that? So that's how you do it, you make them select the plan endl? And the last step, will having them commit to 15 Steps beforehand. And they're much less likely to abandon it. If the investment is high, as the counterintuitive argument is, is something like why would anyone bother to go through so many steps? The crazy part is that they will rather do that, than just give you all the information into let's say, a single page form with everything was done. In I've tested this so many times, and there has never been one case where the single page four outperforms the breadcrumbs. So in B2B, you don't need 20 steps, because you don't, nobody requires that kind of personalization. But if you find a way to split them, if from one to five, six, leave what you need the most last and tested. And I I mean, I have the one that I don't want to over promise, but it works on us.

Mike: I'm not sure we'll all get 35% conversion rate, but if we could all move it up from the low single digits, I think everyone would be happy.

Emir: Absolutely. Absolutely. The key is to be better than yesterday. Not not for some random industry to average plus the b2c is kind of a bit deceiving, because you cannot measure the B2B and b2c investment in forms. In b2c. The last I saw the average ones like 10% in B2B is between three and five.

Mike: that's great advice. I mean, I think that's interesting. And bread crumbing is certainly something you know, people are not familiar with, they should look at. It's something that I know a number of guests have talked about on the podcast. Emir, I'm interested to look forward. Now. I mean, you've talked about what you're doing today. How do you see marketing changing over the next few years? I mean, is AI going to completely transform things? Or is it going to stay, you know, much like it is today?

Emir: Yeah, that's, if you look at now than the main AI tool. So I don't know if you're familiar with magics. A, it's a company out of Tel Aviv. I don't know I don't want to sound biassed, but in my opinion, they have the best marketing automation software for paid advertising. Maybe I'm biassed I've tried a couple of them. I really liked them. I think the company was founded in Israel, if I'm not wrong, or in Austria, I think it was in Israel. It's actually an amazing software. And right now they even created something called marketer AI is interesting, because you don't see a lot of AI tools actually doing the thinking for you. So usually what AI is focused on is cutting your time. So what does it mean? So let's say if you are running a CRM, or an email marketing software, or at Creative AI, powered software, so what they usually do is that they try to cut the manual work. What I'm trying to say is that what I see is that AI will certainly reduce the need for copywriters for marketing research, anything that was previously done manually, but it requires human input to a much greater degree. Magic has one of their tools is actually that they give you recommendations based on your ads performance. AI based so it says, Well, this was happening the last seven days, I recommend that you do X or Y or Z doesn't matter. So it tries to replace the thinking process. That's revolutionary. So it's not just some task that they're trying to replace, as far as marketers focus on data interpretation, that cannot be easily replaced by AI. But as long as their primary focus is a task, or very tight niche, so let's say link building outreach. Now, you can definitely improve that using AI. But if your focus is interpreting what happens, once you get those links, and how those links transform your rankings, that's not something AI can do. Or at least not not as well as someone who's experienced can do so my focus will be to simply focus on things that AI cannot replace, which is interpreting the results of your strategies. And moving slowly away from things that are repetitive, so including you and to an extent copywriting because if almost every software out there now has an AI assistant, so that you can churn out emails, and usually they're very well written. So it's not something that that you can compete, and plus it cuts the cost for employers, that that will be my worst. That's why they think that AI will definitely impact and I don't think they will impact marketing jobs a lot. Because marketing is still a very creative industry. So it still requires a lot of human potential.

Mike: I think that's that's great insight to the future. And certainly, you know, everyone, check out magic, can you just give the URL for that so the listeners can find it?


Mike: Perfect. And I think people would want to check that out. So thank you for that. I mean, it's been really interesting, this discussion, you seem very positive about the future of marketing. I mean, presumably, if somebody was young was thinking of entering the industry came to you, you'd be, you know, quite keen for them to become a marketer. So I'm interested in what would be your advice as to how to successfully start a marketing career.

Emir: Probably the best advice that I can give them is that too, especially at the outset to avoid working for big companies. And I know it sounds counterintuitive, but you will usually be just a hog in like hogging the machine. And you won't get enough exposure to real problems. So if you're starting out and all you're given is a task and you're not allowed to question the system, which something that happens super often, you will never get enough exposure to problems to grow as a marketeer. And it creates a problem because AI will replace most of the repetitive things. So I'm not saying that, of course every business is different than it STEM is different. How it operates is pretty much unique. My advice would be to find someone that is willing to throw them in the fire. And at least for the first couple of years to work for either a startup and I know it's not very popular because startups can get really demanding and sometimes They don't have that same kind of work life balance. But starting out, I would definitely give that advice. Because everybody who has worked for a big company, what they usually receive is a set of tasks they perform, not getting exposed to real problems. So you can learn and grow. And even if you want to get exposed, you're not allowed to because the system is already created, you cannot challenge it without creating a mess on for other different areas. So that will be my advice to girls. And the second one is to read a lot, especially understand data. It may sound crazy, but what I would advise them to do is that they take any channels, whether that's SEO, Google ads, LinkedIn doesn't matter. And try to understand the KPIs read all of them, and understand how it impacts further down the funnel. So if you have for example, let's say you haven't a lot of new visitors, but at the same time your bounce rates goes up. So what does it mean? It means probably are getting a lot of referral traffic. And that interpretation of the data is a I remember what I was reading one book about the CHS old intelligence in the world means nothing unless you have someone to act on it. You can have all the data, all the intelligence, if you don't know what it means you cannot act on it. So it's meaningless. Pretty much data doesn't do anything by itself.

Mike: I love it. That's brilliant advice. I mean, Emir, this has been fascinating. You've been very generous with your insight and your advice for people. I mean, if anyone's listening and they'd like to get in touch, what would be the best way to reach you?

Emir: Probably with LinkedIn. I mean, that will be one way and a via email. Zitzewitz Emir 199, which is my personal email. Awesome.

Mike: That's very generous. Emir, this has been fascinating. I really appreciate your time. Thank you for being a guest on the podcast.

Emir: It was a pleasure. And thank you a lot for the opportunity actually to be here.

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 Sean Campbell - Cascade Insights

Sean Campbell, CEO and Founder of Cascade Insights, is the latest guest to join Mike Maynard for the Marketing B2B Technology podcast. Sean discusses the benefits of using market research platforms, explores the pros and cons of qualitative versus quantitative data, and talks about the challenges of getting research responses within the B2B industry.

About Cascade Insights

Cascade Insights empowers B2B technology companies with customized market research and marketing services. For over a decade, we’ve served Fortune 500 enterprises like Microsoft, Adobe, IBM, Dell Technologies, AWS, and Google as well as mid-markets and startups.

In an industry that’s ever-changing, we deliver the tools and resources to help businesses navigate the market and seize opportunities for growth. Want to learn how well your brand resonates with buyers, or why your superior product keeps losing to a competitor? Maybe you need updated messaging to win more deals and generate more leads.

About Sean

Sean has been training, mentoring, and educating all his life. An exceptionally well-regarded conference speaker and author, Sean has delivered talks for Fortune 50 companies and top-tier conferences. He has also been the author of several books on technical and business topics.

Sean has also been a professional services firm owner for over 20 years. He is passionate about running a remote-first company, and has been doing so long before it was cool – dating back to the 20th century!

His professional services work has spanned consulting engagements with the Fortune 50 and startups you have heard of; the sale of his first professional services company, and the growth of delivery, sales, marketing, and operational practices inside professional services firms.

 Time Stamps

[00:41.5] – Sean discusses his career and what lead him to market research.

[03:54.0] – Sean talks about Cascade Insights, what it is and its capabilities.

[06:09.8] – Sean discusses why he chose to focus on the B2B industry.

[16.10.4] – What are the benefits of using a market research platform vs in-house research?

[19:39.7] – Sean shares how he thinks market research is going to change in the future.

[21.59.7] – What advice would you give to someone joining the profession?

[26:07.2] – Sean’s contact details.

Follow Sean:

Sean Campbell on LinkedIn:

Cascade Insights website:

Cascade Insights on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Interview with Sean Campbell - Cascade Insights

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Sean Campbell

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 Sean Campbell. Sean is the CEO and founder of Cascade Insights. Welcome to the podcast, Sean.

Sean: Thanks for having me.

Mike: It's great to have you on. I mean, what we'd like to do first off is just find a little bit about people's background. So keep telling me a little bit about your career and how you ended up founding cascading sites.

Sean: Well, first thing is I didn't, I didn't want a business. I always thought the kids who went to business school classes at 8am for accounting were just boring. I don't know why they would go do that. I was a liberal arts grad. My classes started at six at night. But no, I was actually going to go be a college professor. Then I met a girl that I was worried about being broke. She wasn't God bless her. But like I said, Well, maybe I should go do some other form of teaching. At the time, I wasn't sure if that was a temporary diversion or not. But I ended up teaching Windows for Workgroups in Microsoft Word when a mouse was a new thing when people would use it as a foot pedal. That's a true story. By the way that actually happened in my classroom, somebody put it on the ground and tried to use it as a foot pedal, like it was a sewing machine or something. So I ended up becoming a technical trainer, teaching networking, databases, programming, and then I decided to go become an independent trainer, started a first company with two other guys, that company grew and eventually got sold. Then I started cascade with one of those two guys, he has now moved on to other things cascade solely owned by me. And I've owned cascade for 17 years now, first company out for about seven. So I'm on your 24 of self employment, basically, at this point.

Mike: Not a bad record for somebody who never wanted to do it.

Sean: Well, the funny thing is, I look back, right. And I still love teaching, like all my hobbies are teaching. I'm basically incapable of learning something and not wanting to teach it. Like I've just like, if I find a new thing, I want to go turn around and teach it. And there's a lot of learning if you have the right orientation to a business, like I know. And I know people get into it for different reasons. It's why I struggle with somebody's like, so what are your growth plans? And I'm like, learning. And that's worked for me. I mean, you know, our first business, we got up to like, 25 people, this business, I've got 15 people, so it's not just like me learning. It's like, I feel like I built an organisation that learns and then go figure. What do I end up doing? The first company did what we used to call technology evangelism work back in the day from Guy Kawasaki, but nobody calls it that anymore. And then this company was a market research firm, which is, oddly enough, something professors do, too. So I have this kind of weird circular thing, I think is kind of happened career wise. And at the same time I, I've had the opportunity to be an adjunct in an MBA programme. I still like teaching and volunteering. And so it's it to me, it makes a lot of sense. And obviously, I should say this, I mean, so nobody thinks it's Pollyanna have I had to learn things like what's p&l? Have I had to learn accounting? Have I learned to learn business and operational processes? Have I learned all the vagaries of HR policies by state in the United States? Yes, I've either hired someone to do that. And or I've had to learn that myself. And if I read contracts long enough to put the most caffeinated person to sleep, yes, I've done that, too. But like, there's plenty of running a business that I had to learn. But no, I didn't even really think I was going to do it. At the start. No, I love it. I love everything about it, mostly. But if I said I loved everything about it, you shouldn't believe me. But mostly, I love everything about it.

Mike: That's great to hear. It's worked out. Well. So you mentioned cascade, is the market research firm? Can you just unpack that and tell us a little bit more about what you do and who you work with?

Sean: Yeah, I say we get hired for pain or opportunity. So we either get hired because a competitor has done a better job selling or marketing or building products. Or you've done a poor job selling and a poor job marketing, and a poor job building product, or we get hired for opportunity. So somebody who wants to move into a new market, they've got a brand new products, that doesn't really have a market yet, or there's like, you know, industries they want to move into. And you go one layer below that. We do a lot of qualitative and quantitative research to answer the questions that fall out of those pain and opportunity buckets. Because clients will sit around a table or virtually or otherwise in their office and say, We really need some market insight to make this decision effectively. And so they'll come to us. And I think of us is like great recommenders right. We're certainly really good plumbers we understand how to conduct research really well. But fundamentally we get hired because we produce great recommendations. And the reason we do that to kind of bring the circle all the way Around, is we only work with B2B technology companies. So if you're a business to business oriented company, and you have a technology based solution, and the reason there's a little asterisk there is like, you know, we wouldn't work with Merck, talking to surgeons about cancer drugs, but we might talk to Merck, about a life sciences oriented solution that is SAS based to manage clinical trials, right. So like, there has to be like a strong technical underpinning which in this era of cascade, you know, your 17 predominantly means cloud based solution. So if you're a cloud based solution, kind of regardless of the vertical you're in, that's a great choice for us. On the other hand, if you were like, selling H back solutions to high rises, which we get a lead like that, every once in a while, they'll say, Well, we're technology. And I'm like, Yeah, but not the technology we work with. You know, you're absolutely technology, and you're absolutely B2B, but it's not what we would work with.

Mike: And that's interesting, you've got such a clear focus of what you do, because, I mean, there's this view that B2C, you know, consumer does a lot more market research than B2B. So why did you pick B2B?

Sean: It's more interesting. I mean, that's part of it. I mean, for sure, part of it's, it's more interesting, it's chewier. Now, I know there's a B2C researcher out there, that's like, but there's so much into like, whether they pick the rose coloured phone or the gold phone? And I'm like, Yeah, but it also feels kind of manipulative. So like, I wouldn't really get excited about that. And I'm not trying to be dismissive of the army of people to do consumer packaged research and like, what colour the Clorox box should be, I mean, I understand it's valuable. But it's just different. I also feel like it ends up being a lot more focused, you know, our audiences are very narrow and B2B that we go after, right? We don't serve a, you know, the swath of millennials, right? You know, it's very rare for us to do a study that would be based on like demographic characteristics, it's a lot more like, what are you using? What is your day, like, you know, what is your title? Like? What are the business problems you're trying to solve? That's how we target people. So I just find there's kind of a richness to it. And I think the other thing is, and this is honestly part of the entrepreneurial journey, so try to make this really short. But it's, it's fundamental to what happened to me, our first client in the first business was Microsoft, in 1999. And if somebody listening thinks of market dominance in tech, you don't really understand what it was like, except if you worked with Microsoft. And when they own 97% of computing, that doesn't exist. Now. There's not 97% of iPhones, AWS doesn't have 97% of cloud compute, you know, there's nobody, there's 97% of laptop sales, Microsoft and Intel, were something that's just probably never going to be seen again, unless, like, open AI does it to us, right? You know, or something like that, where you got like, 97%, of something happening in one building. And I say only that for this one reason. We ended up working with their developer division at that time, a lot. And they were very business to business focus. And so I ended up getting I didn't know it at the time, I didn't even think about it that way. At the time, I got this incredible education, on what it meant to do business to business marketing and business to business product development, just because we lucked out is our first account as these guys. Right. And it's it's almost like a version of graduate school for me that I didn't really think about it the time, but that's what was happening. And again, that analogy would hold true even for B2C. I mean, I know those people who like, you know, hung around a big CPG company, and they're like, as a vendor, they just ended up being educated in the world of that, and God bless them. That's great. But for me, I just got drawn into it. And before I knew it, that was the space that I really felt like I could provide a lot of value. And there's some fringe benefits. I'd say, too. I mean, I think the research is, well, I don't want to say it's monetized better, because that's not really maybe the best way to put it. It's not even really what I think it's just really chewy and rich. And that creates one problem, I'd say it's a huge one maybe that falls under the like when I send it like the job mostly is it can be very challenging for us to get feasibility on a study. I mean, one of our perennial problems is cmo wanders up to us of technology company and says, I want an n of 1000 survey. And we go nope. And they go, why not? And then there's this like math problem, we have to explain to them and they're like, I don't understand. And you're like, it's hard to get B2B research respondents. It's really hard. And it's probably the biggest day to day challenge we face in our business at least. So

Mike: I'm going to ask you that because obviously, I think most B2B marketers have tried research at some point or another. And most of them have come across this, you know, situation where they go, we want you know, even if it's a couple of 100 responses, that's really tough and B2B. So how do you go about trying to get higher responses from B2B surveys? Or do you do market research a different way for B2B? Well,

Sean: Well, so that's interesting. So a couple of things in that one underlying that question, you're getting at something that I want to pull out which is that me Many marketers in B2B have to recognise that they might not get a quant study, they might end up with a call study. Just because of the math, right? Even things like a brand study that you would really traditionally want as quant, you might just not have enough people at the top of the funnel. Another classic example of that is competitive studies. You know, somebody says, I would really like a quantitative survey of XYZ competitor customers, and it's like, okay, we'll just do the math, right? I mean, if you want an end of 200, and your response rates are in the low single digits, you need a lot of people at the top of the funnel, and somebody has to have that whole list of competitor customers, that's going to be hard to find. And if you try to organically sourced that list, well, now that's nowhere near the cost that you thought that study would be right, which is a lot of times why the CPI, you know, the cost per respondent can be like, really, really high. And that creates some challenges for client. Basically, I'll give you a short version of how we find people, we could dig into it more if you want, because it's it's definitely an area we could do a whole show on. But like, the short version is don't use a panel, use an expert network, or somebody that is preferably which expert networks do but they don't do always sourcing participants organically, like they're actually going out and looking at LinkedIn and their or some other tool. And they're trying to find people who have exactly the right profile. And then they screen those individuals. Because the problem with the panels are there may be all right for B2C. But they tend to break down very quickly for B2B for one simple reason that I can give you a short analogy on that is absolutely true, and is the heart of the problem. We even have a short video on the website that somebody on the team here did wants that we call B2B Brian, that's kind of a cute way of putting it together. But like so B2B, Brian is 53. And he likes baseball and pasta equally. And at 54. He likes baseball a little more and pasta a little less, you can track that somewhat in a panel of a bazillion consumers and send out surveys. The challenge is the timeliness of it breaks down with business because you are in a study this year, because you work for big Corp, Microsoft, and you are an HR benefits leader. And in a week from now you're going to quit and go be an HR benefits leader in a startup, you're not even in the same study anymore, you're solving completely different problems. And the reality is we do have a database, it's live and out there all the time. It's called LinkedIn the tracks that for us, but that's not the same thing as having a proprietary database. And then you have the the one factor that the barbarians are at the gate, meaning you know, if you can get 50 bucks or 75 bucks as a research participant to fill out a 15 minute survey, you will try desperately to fake and be whoever that person is, there's just a massive amount of challenges there. And whereas in B2C, they get paid a lot less. So there's kind of this like Cold War always going on with like professional survey takers. And you solve a lot of that by recruiting organically because you're going to someone who is most likely to they are they have the background, all that stuff anyway. So wait a little longer on that than I intended. But that's that's basically it. And we just have to constantly be staring at the vendors we work with for recruit and figure out you know, you're good with this audience. You're good with that audience, you're great with this audience. And that's how it plays out. But the short answer is just for the love of God, don't use panel, because you will end up with a survey that you may not even know you shouldn't trust, but you shouldn't trust.

Mike: I think that's that's really interesting advice. I'm gonna have to ask, What about focus groups in B2B? Do they work? Or are they hard to be effective?

Sean: They work? I think they work honestly. Great. We try to steer clients slightly away from them. Because like, I really tried to ask why are you asking for a focus group is it preference that you come from B to C, here because there's some dynamics, maybe this is what you're alluding to, in B2B focus groups that you have to kind of watch for right and things that are harder to create dynamic wise, because people might be a little more reluctant to share, especially on certain topics, because they don't really know who else is in the focus group, it can be a little harder to just collect the focus group participants at the same date and time. And it's also one of the reasons that, at least in our experience, we have a lot more success with virtual focus groups in B2B, that if we tried to do it in person, the only exception to that is like when we run them at a conference. Like for example, we've run focus groups for AWS at reinvent, but there's 10s of 1000s of people already there for you to grab. So that's not a really fair test that you know, in person focus groups work all the time. It's just the nature of a conference draws them in in a different way. But yeah, we don't really have a huge issue running them in short, I think you just have to factor in a little different dynamic that plays out and the places we would use them. Message testings a call Number one, that's probably the most common. I would say it's sometimes shows up in crossover studies, maybe like an ICP study, you know, and I'd say one of the thing about it one thing, just and this is probably more personal preference, I tend to steer people away from them a little bit, because I don't know if it's necessarily the best bang for your buck, because I think people over index on the popcorn thing that will happen in the focus group, which all happens in like 90 minutes. And they don't think about, well, if I turned all that cost of running a focus group, and I did X number of interviews that I could listen to, I could read the transcript, I get a much more longitudinal feel. And I can tune the study as it goes along in a different way, for roughly the same amount that you might have run a single focus group. But that's maybe more personal preference than anything else. I'd

Mike: I'd sounds like good advice, though. I mean, it sounds like a very sensible approach. I mean, one of the things a lot of companies do is they try and do I mean, what they see as being very informal market research, but try and do something in house, maybe ask the sales team to go talk to a couple of customers. I mean, what do you see as the issues behind companies running market research in house?

Sean: Well, first thing is, I think it's great. I think if you have a mindset that you want to learn about your market, whether you hire a firm or not, I will just say you're probably ahead of half the people you're competing with, right at that moment of you making that decision, whether you hire a research firm or not to do it. The second thing is it has a lot to do with how you staff, the team that's going to do that research. Have you given them actual time to do it? Do you as a leader understand some of the dynamics we've already discussed? You know, if you go say, go run a survey with our current customers, do you understand response rates? Do you understand that you can't just like say, Oh, they're our valued customers, I'm sure they'll respond to our survey, you have to understand some dynamics that are just like, everyday realities for somebody that runs a research firm. And some companies are good at that, you know, and I think that's great. As far as the specific example of talking to customers, or talking to the sales team, I'd split the two a little bit, I think it's great to talk to you to our customers, I don't think you necessarily need a research firm as an agnostic intermediary. I don't think you'd need it, I think that it can be very helpful because the discussion guide and some of the things that you're going to develop might be canted to meet the needs of a particular stakeholder group and might not necessarily be as balanced as it could be. And that's definitely a rule that we take on. And I would say from the, you know, salesperson standpoint, I actually love it. When we talk to sales books, I say that they are running a never ending qualitative research project. And they need to be interacted with as such. Now on the other hand, they can sometimes be a poor research participant, because they might generalise a lot from a specific or the last deal they closed. But you contrast that with they're sending messaging downrange all day long in a complex B2B sale. And they are understanding where where it comes from, and where it lands a perfect example of that. And I should emphasise this a complex sale, I'm not talking about somebody like selling selling e signature solutions and waiting for the next lead to show up on their screen. And they're just reading a script. I'm not talking about that. I'm talking about the more complex side of B2B. But like there was a stakeholder meeting, we were in one time with a recognisable fortune 100 tech company and the sales guy pops off when one of the marketers said I think we should test digital transformation is a phrase and the long standing sales guy, probably comfortable poking everyone in the eye, because he probably kept selling a lot. Said, I think there should be a swear jar around here every single time somebody utters the phrase digital transformation, and they're forced to put $100 in it, because it just drives people batty when you say it in a sales conversation. And I was like, oh, yeah, you're here, right? I mean, and I like I said, I think there's this misplaced notion that sometimes talking to the sales team is invaluable. And I think done right? It's, it's a goldmine. It's an absolute goldmine. So I think we provide a lot of value. And I could get into that. But that's probably not the best use of a listeners time to hear a commercial where our value is, but I would inspire people to say, yeah, go learn back to what I said earlier. Like, if you're learning about your market and your competitors, you're way ahead of probably half the companies out there just by making that decision alone. That's

Mike: That's a really positive view of what people can do, Sean. So I really appreciate that. You know, one thing I'm interested in about market research is, obviously today it's quite a labour intensive activity. How do you see market research changing in the future? Do you see technology really affecting what you do? Yeah,

Sean: Yeah, I think in terms of the future market research, there's probably two things I would point to, although there's a tonne of things, one is synthetic respondents, which hold a lot of promise and certain amount of risks, but I'm excited about it. I think, you know, if you're a craftsman of any sort, you shouldn't be worried about new technology. Right, you know, the analogy I've used with a lot of the AI tools around here is that it's more like it's a supersuit, right, or it's like a nail gun versus a hammer, you know, houses were built with hammers for millennia. And then some guy came around with a compressed air tank and a big hefty nail gun, and somebody was dismissive of it. And somebody else said, I think my customer just wants a well built house, and they'd like it a little sooner. And now it's rare to go to any job site and not see guys like putting the house together with nail guns doesn't mean that it's a worse house. So synthetic respondents are a big one. There are some risks and rewards to that, like I said, but I think they're going to be a really interesting adjunct to the the more kind of human centred research that I think we're still going to continue to do. The other thing is AI tools for qualitative analysis, we've always had tools that can help go through quantitative results. But I think the place where it's more interesting is around analysis of qualitative survey, qualitative data where you have a tonne of transcripts and textual data that for all of the vendors who build solutions that would analyse that pilot tax, they weren't nearly as good as some of the tools I see that are AI based now. And that takes a lot of manual labour out of the equation that takes a lot of the time out of the equation, that leads to some consistency when it comes to coding and analysis. You know, back to what I said earlier, I ultimately, nobody's working with us, because they care what tools we use. As long as those tools are appropriate. They want to buy the house, they want to have great recommendations, they want to have a way to change their business. And if we can get to that quicker through some of these AI based tools, I think that's fantastic.

Mike: That's great. And that's a super optimistic view of the future, which I love. As we come to closer podcasts, it's always a couple of questions we'd like to ask, and the first one is around people thinking of entering marketing, or in your case, maybe market research. What advice would you give to someone thinking of entering the profession?

Sean: Well, if I was to give very specific advice to market research, I would say spend time looking at qualitative research. You know, I think it's a real common misstep and mistake to kind of look at market research as surveys. And I think schools sometimes do an injustice there, too. I think when I even taught in the MBA programme, it felt like every student assumed that what I did all day was right, and send out quantitative surveys. And they miss the richness and understanding that comes from qualitative. So I would say that's a big piece. And it also sometimes inhibits somebody who's looking at a market research as a career, right? Because if they see themselves as somewhat of a behind the scenes person, or someone who wants to look at the data, and analysing qualitative research puts you right in touch with the customer. And I think that's going to be ever more important. As we get more and more data from AI based solutions, right? That we have this kind of ability to talk to customers in their element human to human. I think that's like really, really going to be critical. I've even seen some organisations start to emphasise a lot more qualitative research, even technology organisations, because they see the same gaps starting to develop, you know, mountains of data, but not a lot of qualitative research being done. So that's being and a more meta level, I would say read stuff you disagree with. It's it's a general piece of advice. If somebody asked me like, what's the major piece of advice I'd give anybody, business or otherwise read stuff you disagree with? You don't have to agree with it when you're done. But if you really ask yourself, How much do I read that I disagree with? Do I watch the news channel that I don't like? Do I read the articles that I don't like? Do I read books from business authors that just based on the cover, I might not necessarily agree with? One of two things is going to happen. Either you're going to have your own views kind of positively reinforced by engaging with something that's different, or they're going to be changed somewhat. And that's good. So those are the two big things. That's

Mike: That's awesome advice, Sean, I think not just for people new to the industry or thinking about the industry, but also people who've been in the industry a while. So really appreciate that. Thank you so much for your time and all your insight, Sean, is there anything you'd like to sum up with or anything you feel we've missed?

Sean: I know, I think we hit a lot of things. I mean, I would just say, you know, my career has been blessed by just an emphasis on wanting to learn approach problems from that mindset. And I'll leave you with one personal example. Let's just say people are watching the US presidential election, this time around with a certain degree of interest, perhaps not just in the United States, much like they did on the last few elections. And I saw that I'm a citizen here in the States. And the last election happened and I said, you know, I want to learn more about US presidents. I want to learn more about the process around electing presidents and all that and I said, you know, one of the coolest things I think I could do is I'm going to go read a biography on every single US President. So alongside of us bunch of other reading over the last three years. I did that. And I just finished it up a couple months ago. And I can tell you I learned a tonne, I was at times surprised by how our own electoral processes changed. I was somewhat surprised also why things are the way they are. And that led to all kinds of interesting thoughts around, you know, what presidents were good, which presidents were bad, what made a good president? You know, what was the typical characteristics of a president? Well, I don't think everybody needs to do that to vote. I think having a lien to learning more about the process than just talking about it. I think he's the biggest piece of advice I could give anybody, both personally and professionally.

Mike: That's amazing, even if the thought of reading a biography of every American President seems just a little challenging at the moment.

Sean: Well, it was it was actually pretty fun. But I'm a history buff, so but not everybody has. Anyway, anyway.

Mike: Also, Sean, thank you so much. It's been such an interesting conversation. I mean, you've talked a lot about loading if people want to learn more, or maybe even get you to help them do their next market research project. How can they get in contact with you?

Sean:  Just check out cascade You know, thankfully, to the heart efforts of our marketing team, if you just type cascade Insights in Google, I think you're gonna find this pretty quick. So that's, that's the fastest way.

Mike: That's, that's amazing and nice and simple. Sean, thanks so much for being a guest on the podcast. I've really enjoyed our chat. Thanks

Sean: Thanks for being here, man. Take care.

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

Key Insights From HubSpot's State of Marketing Report 2024

With the rise of AI and automation technologies, marketing is changing quicker than ever. Marketing budgets are increasingly under the microscope, and marketers must streamline processes, improve efficiency, and prove ROI at every step.

HubSpot's State of Marketing Report 2024 looks at marketing in the age of intelligence and highlights some of the top trends marketers can expect to see making an impact this year. Based on data from both B2C and B2B organisations, we’ve pulled out some of the most interesting insights for B2B marketers.

Personalisation is key

Competition is fierce, and capturing the ever-decreasing attention of your audience is essential. Marketers must focus on the end-user at every step of the buying journey, crafting content and campaigns personalised to the individual buyer.

Whether this is using dynamic emails to alter content based on actions or delivering super-targeted LinkedIn campaigns, taking the extra step to personalise might make all the difference in converting leads.

In fact, 96% of marketers stated that personalisation led to repeat business, and 94% said that it helped increase sales in 2023.

There’s no denying that personalisation is an effective and important tactic. However, there is still work to be done, as only 33% of respondents felt that their customers currently get a very personalised experience with their brand.

There are ways to address this, and marketers should be using new tools to streamline the personalisation process. For example, generative AI can help to learn more about your audience, their needs and how best to group them. While tools like Turtl can help marketers personalise on a mass scale.

Go beyond simple bulk email sends

Email is the basis of many marketing campaigns, and Hubspot states that email marketing is tied second place as the channel that provides the highest ROI. However, it is no longer enough to simply personalise first names, and with both AI and marketing automation platforms in use, marketers can deliver personalised campaigns at scale without the labour-intensive set-up.

Litmus users have seen a 52% increase in conversions with dynamic content personalisation, with some companies seeing as high as a 44% increase in email-driven sales. Marketers have been personalising with dynamic content via tactics such as:

  • Adjusting subject lines and copy based on past actions and purchases
  • Selecting images relevant to the customers' interests
  • Localising content based on the customers' location and language

Dynamic emails are an effective way to manage the set-up of large-scale personalised email campaigns. We have found dynamic content particularly effective when setting up multi-language campaigns, adding dynamic subject lines, headings and body text for each language. Even small adjustments to email content and design can make a big impact on how the audience responds to it, and experimenting with dynamic content is a great way to get started with personalisation.

Increase engagement with video

Video is a fantastic way to engage with audiences, and marketers have been focusing on short-form content for TikTok, YouTube, and Instagram. Short-form content has the highest ROI and will see the most growth in 2024.

Although short-form content might not seem the right fit for B2B companies, video provides an excellent platform to explain technical subjects in a visually interesting way. Video is also a great way to repurpose content such as blog posts, podcasts and case studies. The key to success is to build a strong video strategy and optimise brand videos with keywords.

Data, privacy and a cookieless future

Reliance on third-party cookies is extremely high, with 81% of marketers stating that their marketing activities rely on them to some extent and 84% of marketers saying Google's phased withdrawal of third-party cookies is a key concern.

As a result, marketers are turning to collecting first-party data provided by the customers themselves. But how can you gather this information? Email is a great place to start as most data points gathered by email and form-fills are provided by the customers themselves.

HubSpot provided some tips, suggesting the following tactics to build first-party data into your data strategy:

  • Review your current data and identify what you still need
  • Determine which data points you need to prioritize
  • Keep your data collection simple
  • Set data priorities based on your current database

Don’t forget, there are also techniques such as progressive profiling, which can allow companies to gather data in small increments to build relevant and valuable profiles of customers in order to be able to tailor communications effectively.

Get on the AI train

There is no escaping AI – it’s quickly become an important tool for many businesses. In fact, the report revealed that 64% of marketers use AI and automation to support their day-to-day activities, and 84% felt that AI tools have enhanced efficiency in creating content.

Although there’s no denying that AI can support content generation, with 82% using AI to produce ‘significantly more content’, there are still several drawbacks to using these tools and marketers should still be proofing and editing these pieces to ensure high-quality content which keeps tone of voice and maintains brand integrity.

This seems to be the consensus across the landscape, with 60% of marketers who use generative AI to make content, are concerned that it could harm their brand’s reputation due to bias, plagiarism or misalignment with brand values. This is even more relevant in technology industries, where AI introduces the risk of inputting inaccurate information into content pieces or producing what is quite typically seen as ‘bland’ content.

It seems that the value of generative AI lies within the ideas and inspiration capabilities, with 45% of respondents using tools for this use, compared to a low 6% using it to write content.

Content generation support isn’t the only focus for marketers, with 33% stating that the most successful use case for AI is research, and 20% are focused on using AI to primarily take over menial tasks. In fact, with the use of AI, marketers can save 2.5 hours on manual, administrative and operational tasks, freeing up time for more creative and innovative work.

AI is definitely something that should be embraced as a valuable tool, but treated with caution. We’re already seeing where the most value of AI lies, and it’ll be interesting to see how this continues to play out in the second half of 2024.

Sales enablement - teamwork makes the dream work

Marketing and sales teams often work in isolation from each other, despite ultimately having the same goal - driving sales and revenue. Only 35% of marketers say their sales and marketing teams are strongly aligned. By connecting teams together with data and tools, businesses can overcome this disconnection, align KPIs and deliver a better experience to the customer throughout their buying journey.

One tool that can be essential to support this alignment is a CRM. More than half of marketers found that their CRM became more important in 2023, and marketing teams using CRMs are 128% more likely to report having an effective marketing strategy.

The report revealed that marketers with a ‘single source of truth’ are 56% more likely to be strongly aligned with their sales teams and 26% stated that their marketing strategy this year was more effective compared to those who aren’t aligned.

It’s a common challenge within B2B businesses to align sales and marketing. But there’s no denying the rewards and results that can be achieved when alignment is in place.

To conclude

The marketing landscape is changing rapidly, with no sign of slowing down. The shift in technology is having a big impact on how businesses operate, and marketers must adapt to keep up with competition and build better customer experiences. The most successful companies are investing in the right tools and processes to drive growth whilst also increasing efficiency to allow for creativity and innovation.


For further information, download your copy of the report here: HubSpot's State of Marketing Report 2024

A Napier Podcast Interview with Darren Mitchell - Sales Leader

How can marketing and sales work together? Darren Mitchell, Sales Leader and host of the Exceptional Sales Leader Podcast, joins Mike Maynard to discuss sales enablement and how sales and marketing teams can work together to provide true value to prospects throughout the buyer journey.

Darren shares the career journey that led him to become a sales leader, he explains what sales enablement means and shares his thoughts on why current team structures may negatively impact buyer experience.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

About Darren

Darren Mitchell is an expert in sales with a successful career in corporate sales, sales management, people leadership, people development and leadership coaching. Darren now works with sales leaders and their teams to create and implement sales leadership plans that deliver outstanding sales and revenue results.

Time Stamps

[00:55.5] – Darren shares how his career started

[03:50.3] – What is sales enablement? Darren explains.

[06:41.8] – How can marketing and sales work together?

[14:17.5] – What role should tools play in the sales process?

[23:06.5] – Darren shares the advice he would give to a young person starting their career.

[25:17.2] – Darren’s contact details.


“I think sometimes people look at tools like the be all and end all and they forget that people by from people.” Darren Mitchel, Sales Leader.

Follow Darren:

Darren Mitchell on LinkedIn:

Darren’s website:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Interview with Darren Mitchell - Sales Leader

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Darren Mitchell

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 we're doing something different. We've got a salesperson rather than a marketer. We've got Darren Mitchell; Darren has worked for over 20 years in B2B sales. He now helps salespeople do a better job with B2B. And he's also the host of the Exceptional Leader Podcast. Welcome to the podcast, Darren.

Darren: Thanks for having me, Mike. Great to Great to be here.

Mike: Yeah, it's great to have you on. And I mean, as you're a salesperson, I think, you know, one of the first things we need to understand is tell us a little bit about your career. And I'm particularly interested, you know why ultimately, you chose to help salespeople rather than staying in sales yourself?

Darren: It's a great question. And rather than bore you with the massive background that I've got, I did start out as an engineer in the construction industry. And I had no intentions of being in sales at all. But things happened in Australia back in the late 80s, early 90s, where there was a recession that Australia had to have and Paul Keating was the then Prime Minister, I worked for organisations that went broke and found myself in telecommunications, and I was working with some salespeople in the B2B space as a post sales customer service or customer success manager as you probably refer to them today. And I saw, I saw salespeople driving nice cars, wearing nice suits, playing better golf, having long lunches, and I thought you might have a piece of that didn't even know that world existed. So long story short, got myself into a position where I did that spend probably, what was it probably six, seven years in that particular space and then found I had a pension for development, I really wanted to work with salespeople and help them enhance their, I guess, their potential. And so I jumped up into a sales leadership role and never really looked back. So I still liked the art of sales. I can empathise with salespeople. But I actually love the development. And so what I do today, I work with sales teams and sales leaders to help them become exceptional what they do. And I found that I could have a bigger impact and a wider impact by working with salespeople rather than being in sales directly myself.

Mike: That's great. You wanted to you know, help people develop. And I know one of the things that you tried to do is usual podcast. And actually, you were kind enough to have me as a guest.

Darren: I was and it was a fantastic conversation. And I backed it up with your one of the prize people on my LinkedIn posts on the weekend, because I did talk about the importance of surrounding yourself with exceptional people. And whether you're in marketing, whether you're in sales, or in business, or just in life, it's really important to do that. And I love talking to great people from all different walks of life, because there's so many lessons that we can learn. And that's one thing actually that, you know, when you think about the reach that we can have as an individual and the influence, we can have been able to talk to people like you on the other side of the world that four or five years ago, probably wouldn't have even contemplated knowing you. But you come into the environment, all of a sudden, we're having conversations like this, which is which is fantastic. So just it's an opportunity to spread the word.

Mike: Absolutely. I agree. I think you know, the ability to do this across the world is amazing. And, you know, one of the reasons I really want to talk to you is, you know, you're one of these people who really understand sales enablement. And I think this is an interesting topic, because it kind of is an overlap between sales and marketing. Often, the marketing teams are asked to help with sales enablement. So I mean, maybe before we delve into what to do and how to help sales teams, perhaps you could start off with with an explanation from your point of view is what's meant by sales enablement.

Darren: I like to keep things pretty simple, my way. And it comes from an experience that all departments within an organisation that can have an impact on a customer need to work together. Now that means the processes the policies, the frameworks, the systems, whether that be CRM systems, but also over the top of that any selling methodology or go to market strategy needs to be aligned. And from a sales leadership point of view, enabling sales people to be working in their zone of genius means we've got to be providing coaching, mentoring, feedback. But at a macro level, it's a case of having all people that touch and have responsibility for a customer actually doing something radical and working according to the same hymn sheet, which unfortunately, in a lot of organisations simply doesn't happen because we're pointing the finger at each other. So a lot of people talk about sales enablement, being the system or the isolation of a CRM or the marketing campaign as very easy then to blame others for not getting good quality leads or not having a robust system or our CRM is not being updated, etc, etc. It's excuse afternoon excuse after excuse. Now, at the end of the day, we are there to serve a customer. And in everything we do in order to do that more effectively should be considered to be a sales enablement ecosystem.

Mike: I love that. I love that very broad definition of sales enablement. I mean, I think in some companies, it's actually seen quite negatively. I mean, you hear it called the PowerPoint department sometimes. I mean, presume you think that's unfair, totally

Darren: unfair. But it's also symptomatic, I think of, of history and how organisations have been set up. If you think about any organisation that is well successful, or at least sustainable. They all have sales at the forefront of what they do, right? So any organisation and your business will be no different, right? The only way that you can survive and thrive is through selling your services and selling your ideas and bringing people on board. It's the way we do that. And so it's very easy in and too many organisations, unfortunately, play that blame game, where they think well, we are the sales department. So we are there to actually close deals, marketing say, Well, we're there to make sure that we get the inflowing leads, which are the marketing qualified leads that we then hand over to sales. And if sales, don't close them in sales is at fault, because our leads are fantastic. And so this can create lots of internal bickering. And this is why I keep saying that the sales enablement ecosystem needs to be, we need to be on the same page, because everybody has responsibility for the end customer.

Mike: That's fascinating. You've talked a lot about departments working together, but a lot of companies, you know, the way they implement sales is to create a sales enablement department. Yeah. I mean, do you think that's a good idea? Or do you think other departments should simply have a strategy of working together, the

Darren: danger we've got with organisations and the bigger the organisation gets, the more you're going to have different departments, and you'll have people that are running those departments that perhaps have their own. And I'll say this, respectfully, their own agendas, or their own methodology based on previous experience or their thought process. So I'm not necessarily in the camp of having a separate sales enablement arm, as long as we're unless that sales enablement arm works hand in hand with all the other departments who touch the customer. So that the customer gets a consistent and high quality, what I call exceptional experience, every time they're interacting with our organisation. The problem we've got with a lot of companies is you bring in a marketing department, or a sales relevant team, or a finance team, that all have some sort of interfacing relationship with a customer, but they don't talk to each other internally. So you can have two people talking to the same customer and have two completely different messages. So the biggest challenge is to have organisations and this comes down to the leadership of the organisation to say, Hey, why do we exist? We exist first and foremost, to provide a service to a customer, and help that customer on their buying journey, not the sales process, the buying journey, to how do we do this in a way that creates an experience with that customer that says, You know what, in the case of Napier, we don't want to go anywhere else. Because Napier no matter who we talk with within his business, we get the same message. And they make us feel like the most valued customer that they have. That is what sells and ultimately is because everybody's on the same page, not pointing the finger to each other.

Mike: And I love that because you talk about that customer journey. So you're talking about the times that you know, maybe the customer is looking at marketing content, doing self directed research, as well as the time that they're interacting with sales, right?

Darren: Absolutely. And if you think about customers today, and the amount of information that's available to customers, let's be really, really clear here. Customers are often doing research before they even pick up the phone or have any sort of interaction with you. And in many cases, they've already made a decision based on what that research tells them as to whether you're going to be the company that would like to do business with. So Long gone are the days where salespeople go out, carry the bag and do a great PowerPoint presentation and talk about all the whats and wherefores of how good we are as a company. Because you're your customer already knows this. So we can't go in in there and do that. What we need to do is understand what is the customer's buying journey and a mate of mine who does a lot of work in his area, a guy called Sam shaper, talks about the influence buying journey. So where is your customer in their buying cycle? And how can we fit into that rather than push them into our sales process. That is sales enablement. And it's at its core, and it means that you're more likely to provide a solution that fits in with what the customer is actually looking for. And then it becomes a little bit easier to sell because it's no longer the manipulation and close at all costs. It's now working with the customer where their buying cycle is and providing true value which by the way, can actually start to build loyalty and long term relationships.

Mike: That's a great point. I think we've really addressed the philosophy of sales enablement, I'd like to dig down into perhaps a real practical things that people can do. And I think one of the issues I've seen is often sales teams, you know, they asked for sales enablement, support from a marketing department, and marketing don't really know what's required. So what from your point of view, you know, understanding sales, does the sales team need to be more effective? And I think you said earlier, the phrase I really love is, you know, make it easier to close that. So yeah.

Darren: So my view, and this is just my view, it is not the marketing paraphernalia. It is not the product specifications. And it might not even be our process, our internal procurement process or our onboarding process. It's really everything geared around, what do we know about the customer? Who is our ideal customer? What do they look like? Where do they hang out? What are their challenges, because at the end of the day, and I'll keep prophesizing this until my last breath, sales at its core, is problem solving. And if we as salespeople as an organisation, as sales enablement teams, as marketing teams can understand the problem that the customer is facing, or the industry in which the customer operates is facing. And then if we can build systems and possible solutions that deal specifically with that problem, then sales enablement becomes easier. And so when you then have the sales team, sales enablement, teams, marketing teams, or any other departments that are now working as part of that ecosystem, you're now all geared around focusing on Well, what is the problem that this customer is experiencing? And can we as an organisation, put something in place that can be a solution to that problem? Now, the other thing, of course, is important is does the customer actually want to or need to solve that problem? Because if they don't, there's no point having a conversation, because that'll just be convincing, persuasion, manipulation? And that's the sales close from a perspective of what the sales need. They need a better understanding, first and foremost as to what are the core problems that the customer they're dealing with is facing? And can we, as an organisation solve that? If that's the case, then we can work with marketing to say, right based on your need, and the marketing team presumably will have a bigger visibility of the marketplace, the trends and all that sort of stuff, access to case studies, white papers, what can you bring us that will be valuable to a customer to know that perhaps there's an organisation on the other side of the world who has experienced exactly the same problem, but they had this solution. And we can then provide that to that customer, it may be giving us a better opportunity to have that conversation versus the competitor, who is probably just leading in with their own product or their own solution. And so I don't necessarily think it's a lot of detailed processes, procedures, databases, and things like that. It comes down to a philosophy as to what the problem is we're trying to solve. And can we, as an internal group of departments work together on the solution is to that problem when that happens, and I don't assume this to be too generalised or too much of a cliche. But Sal should become easy when that happens, because the natural consequence will be the customer is likely to want to do a transaction with us. That's really interesting.

Mike: I mean, we see a lot of sales enablement, initiatives that are run as this kind of separate initiative. But it sounds like from your point of view, sales enablement really is all about collaboration between different departments sharing knowledge, sharing expertise, rather than necessarily someone coming in and defining what the enablement that is required, correct.

Darren: Now, there may be people out there that will disagree with me, and that is perfectly fine. They'll they'll have their own opinions. So I don't necessarily agree with I guess the philosophy that sells a name is a thing, or sales enablement is a modality or sales enablement is a department. Sales Enablement is a philosophy of collaboration that is all geared around the view that we have a customer should be exactly the same, irrespective of which department we sit with our organisation. If that's the case, then the interaction and experience the customer gets is going to be so far better than any other of our competitors. It is not funny at all differentiate ourselves quicker than anything else.

Mike: I love that. I mean, presumably you're also not a big fan of the focus on tools. I mean, a lot of sales enablement initiatives are focused around self enablement tools.

Darren: Well, we need tools, right? So we need tools that can improve our productivity and our efficiency. So I've worked in organisations where we've had Siebel, we've had Salesforce, we've had different sales methodologies. The problem with most organisations is the people who look at those sometimes they look at those as almost like the elixir that is going to solve all the problems. The tools need to be an enabler, and they can actually be a multiplier, but they're not the be all and end all. We need to have the understanding of why we're doing what we're doing. Are we on the same page and then we start thinking about, well, what are the right tools that we need in order to enhance and improve and maintain a level of exceptional service to the customers so They get a great experience. It is not the sales methodology, it is not that the sales enablement tool or the CRM or whatever the case, whatever tool you want to throw at us. And so I like tools, so don't get me wrong. But I think sometimes sometimes people look at the tools as being the be all and end all. And I should get the fact that people buy from people.

Mike: I love that I'm gonna go and delve into something you mentioned before, which is always a bone of contention leads. And it seems to me that leads are either brilliant if you're a marketer, or terrible if you're a salesperson. So from your point of view with your sales knowledge, what a marketers doing wrong. I mean, how can marketers do a better job of providing leads that are more helpful, more useful to the sales team?

Darren: Again, my experience, this is only my viewpoint based on that experience. I think in working with teams, I think there's a lot of organisations a disconnect, still between marketing and sales, and whether we like it or not, because they're not working closer together, there is a tendency to point the finger so sales will say, marketing giving us leads marketing is saying we're giving you some really high quality leads based on the criteria that we've been set, based on what you guys said was your ideal customer, and sales assign? Well, they're crap, but then marketing saying, well hang on a second, these are perfect, you guys don't have a great sales methodology. Or maybe they're questioning the technique of the salesperson. So the first thing we need to do is forget about the blame game and start working together. And my view is, if I was building a company from from scratch, from today, I had sales and marketing that actually be in the same department working hand in hand with each other. And that also be both accountable for the delivery to that customer. Now, whether that means putting KPIs or putting bonuses or commissions wherever the case might be, and removing the opportunity to blame each other for the lack of performance of their individual KPIs. So one of the things that we do know, and we've talked about this on the podcast that we deal with you we talk about the marketing qualified leads, and when that happens, it then gets thrown over to the sales teams to do the qualifying or the discovery calls, and they then turn into the sales qualified leads, right? Then that turns into the sales qualified opportunities. And if there's a bit of a disconnect, or the salesperson doesn't follow the right technique, or doesn't ask the right questions, or he's not curious enough, then they'll come back. And it almost like as a defensive mechanism myself that lead was just rubbish shouldn't have gone out there in the first place. It had nothing to do with the lead, it had something to do with the way the salesperson actually engaged with that lead. So the short answer to a very long winded response to that question, Mike, is, we need to get sales and marketing to work more closely together. And instead of looking more internally, out to the customer, start looking at the customer back internally, and putting ourselves in the shoes of the customer. And again, coming back and saying, What is the problem we're trying to solve? And how can we now build the criteria so that when when marketing, we're actually using the language, we're talking about the problem, and we're trying to build some sort of, I guess, impetus for those potential customers to want to take some form of action. And that's not necessarily going to be a soul in the first instance, but at least there's a level of interest there, that we can actually have a conversation to see whether there's a fit between what they have as a problem, and what we might have as a solution. So get into work together. And if that means singular KPIs or shared KPIs and shared accountability, bit of a radical thought, but you know what, there's too many organisations that are still rolling out the old sales plans and the old marketing plans, and it's probably time for a bit of a upheaval, I reckon.

Mike: I think that's fascinating. And a lot of organisations are quite a long way away from tying ultimately, the amount you sell to, you know, the marketing metrics, but we see it beginning to come in, I mean, more and more, we're seeing marketing teams being judged, and particularly where there's the opportunity for online sales, obviously, then, that's where marketing really gets very close to sales. So I think he made some great points there.

Darren: Well, the other thing that I would I would probably add to that is, and it's a little bit radical, but I'm all for people actually going into comments, or doing water loans or doing a three months are common. So a salesperson doing three months of common in marketing and a marketing person doing sales are common for three months as well, if nothing else, but to get an appreciation as to what's happening at the coalface because a will give a different perspective, not only of the business, but also the processes and some of the challenges they experience. It might also give them a better appreciation of each other's roles, which will bring them closer together and the longer I

Mike: I love it. I'm not sure many companies will be rushing to implement it, but I think that's a great idea. I'm interested. You know, we've talked about sales enablement. We've mentioned some of the issues that we've both seen in organisations where sales and ama isn't really deployed particularly well. I mean, how do you see that changing over the next few years? Do you see more of a focus on sales enablement and that whole customer journey? or do you see the situation staying much of is?

Darren: Well, here's what I'll say that industry and and things are evolving. And organisations that don't evolve with the times, they're gonna find themselves wondering what's happened because they're going to have their competitors go past them at a rate of knots now, whether it's AI and integrating AI and everything we're doing, whether it's integrating a structural approach and an ecosystem that actually has more of a customer centric focus, you just have to look at history. And history is often one of the best teachers as to what could happen. There's blockbuster, there's Kodak and I was listening to a podcast the other day, and really delving into the story of Kodak that they really worked their butts off to try and protect what was their photographic business, having already invented and had the technology for digital photography, but they chose to keep it under wraps, because it would have actually destroyed what they thought was their great business. So I think organisations that are going to thrive into the future, I'd also like to think that the customers are going to demand a lot more from organisations. And if organisations can't flex their style, and change their structures to better support a more customer centric approach, then customers will tell them, you either do this or we're moving because we can no longer afford to be in the old way of doing things, we've got multiple different silos, talking to the same customer, and potentially giving a different message now, and customers will not have that patience. And if you think about the amount of information that's available to us right now, and how much more educated buyers are, it's going to demand that organisations change. And the ones that don't, are the ones that will be doing podcasts and about two, three years time thinking about, you know, what, they have the opportunity, but they chose not to, because they were hanging on to what they were considering to be the status quo, and then normal form of business. So, watch, watch what's going to happen in the next couple of years.

Mike: I think that's amazing. So a great, very compelling, warning, Dario, don't be Kodak.

Darren: Don't be Kodak. And look, there are there are companies across multiple industries now that are potentially holding on to old technology that they need to embrace. And they need to they need to remove, I guess, the level of self importance thinking that they are the be all and end all to their industry. Because here's the other thing that people need to understand. And this is a message for anybody that's got a product or a service, your customers don't want your product, and they're not interested in your product or your service. So don't focus on it don't lead with it lead with what is the problem. And so again, if customers are made more and more educated, and if companies can recognise, you might have the best service that's ever been created, you might have the greatest product with the greatest features. But who cares? If the customer doesn't have a problem, that's going to be solid boil solution. So don't focus on your product.

Mike: Great advice. We'd like to finish with a couple of standard questions. This might be a bit interesting, because you're not from a marketing background from sales. But you know, I'm gonna have to ask these. So the first question I'm going to ask is, if you are talking to a young person about start their career, would you advise them to go to marketing or sales?

Darren: It's a really good question. Now I'm a little bit biassed, because I went into sales because I chose sales because I thought, long lunches, nice cars, good suits, play a bit of golf, things like that. Now what I know about careers in sales and working with marketing teams, I would say both. In fact, if a person had patience, I would say you know what, dip your toe into both. Because you might find you've got some strengths and capabilities in an area that will lead to a more longer term career. Now, if that doesn't happen, at least you've now got experience, which by the way, will now create a more rounded business person, which will be more attractive to the marketplace. So I'm not going to be saying buyers go into sales or go into marketing. Try both.

Mike: That's great advice. I love that. And now here's a chance for you from sales. And I think as marketers, we always perceive that sales want to give us advice. So as a salesperson, if you could give advice to someone in marketing, what would be that best bit of marketing advice that that you could give

Darren: the best bit of marketing advice, take your eyes off your own world and put it on the market that you're there to serve. And the key word is there to serve, right. And so if you can do that, and you do that with a servant's heart, you'll get lots of opportunities because you'll be providing value, which might at the time seem intangible or not direct in terms of response. But I guarantee if you treat customers in a way that serves them and adds value to them, they will have this unconscious desire to why reciprocate at some point they might come back directly to you. Or it might come back indirectly but it will come because there's an energy transfer. So I'll give the same advice to salespeople by the way, in terms of how they approach it. Don't make it about you. It is all about servitude, and if you can do that, people will become interested in you. But it starts with you being interested in them.

Mike: Awesome. That's fantastic. What a great way to end down. I really appreciate your time. I mean, if there are people listening to the podcast that need some help levelling up their sales enablement programmes, or just want some more information on sales, what's the best way to contact you?

Darren: Probably the best way, Mike is just going into LinkedIn. So if you look up Darren Mitchell in LinkedIn, or sales leadership coach, I'll come up in LinkedIn. And all my contact details are there. So that's probably the best best way. LinkedIn is the platform because that's where all the cool people are hanging out.

Mike: Absolutely, it's, it's becoming the new email. I think with the amount of messages it's it's definitely getting stronger, stronger. Love it. Darren, thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate you know all your advice and all your insight. So thanks very much for being a guest on marketing B2B technology. Thanks,

Darren: Mike. Greatly appreciate it. Thanks very much.

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

Data Analysis: The Role of Marketers vs AI

With AI supporting more and more everyday marketing activities, there is a risk of becoming too reliant on the technology and the data it produces.

Mike Maynard and Hannah Wehrly discuss why marketers should continue to play an essential role in data analysis, they explain the risks and benefits of chatbots and the role they will play going forward and discuss how dynamic emails can improve efficiency and effectiveness.

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

[00:54.5] – AI’s role in data analytics.

[04:06.5] – Switching marketing automation platforms. Is it worth it?

[08:18.4] – HubSpot’s state of marketing and trends report 2024.

[10:44.2] – Chatbots and the role they play in marketing.

[13:38.4] – Dynamic emails, how to use them and their benefits.

Follow Mike and Hannah:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

Transcript: Marketing Automation Moment Episode 14 – Data Analysis: The Role of Marketers vs AI

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Hannah Wherly

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 podcast. This week we discuss using AI for data analytics,

Mike: we have a little bit of a disagreement about switching marketing automation platforms.

Hannah: We discussed HubSpot’s state of marketing and trends report 2024.

Mike: And we chat about dynamic emails and how they can help personalization.

Hannah: Hi, Mike, and welcome back to another episode of Market automation moment. How're you doing?

Mike: I’m good. Thanks, Hannah. It's good to do another episode. It's been a little while,

Hannah: it has been a little while. And I'm excited because we have a few good things to talk to you about today. And I'm going to jump right in with our favourite topic because we can't have a podcast and not talk about AI. So I actually came across an interest in news last week where act on has actually brought in an AI platform to help support customers in generating more insightful reports. So they're actually saying that since buying in this AI platform, there's a 60%, higher customer report usage compared to our report. So it's now offering customers the ability to look at trends, so spikes on emails open raise. I mean, it's quite a cool concept, don't you think?

Mike: I agree, I think it's quite interesting. They thought thought spots age, which is not an easy things. And it's all about basically making it easier to access data. So clearly, one of the things that I think we're seeing, you know, AI being applied to is data analytics. And what they're trying to do is get people who, you know, frankly, don't really understand data analytics to be able to actually get some insights from the data. And I guess that should be a good thing, although maybe it's also a little bit dangerous. If people don't understand what they're doing. Perhaps people could ask the wrong questions or get the wrong results. What do you think? All?

Hannah: That's a great point, Mike, I think it's interesting, because, as marketers, we should be asking these questions about data. Anyway, there's been a move in the last few years to have in data centric, you know, campaigns report. So we should be asking this questions. But I'm hoping that there's a level of support from axon to make sure that customers can ask the right type of questions to get the right type of responses, because you're completely right, it could go very wrong very quickly.

Mike: Yeah. And I think, you know, it's really interesting. AI is an amazing tool. It's certainly helping, a lot of people do things that perhaps they couldn't even do before. But I still think that it's leaving the opportunity for experts to come in and really understand what's going on. And so one of the things that, you know, does sometimes worry me is that you see people looking at different campaigns, jumping to conclusions, and sometimes they're right, sometimes they're wrong. You know, the classic thing is, we've got two Google ads running, and we've had 100 impressions of each and one of them's got to click on one of them hasn't. So the one that's got to click has got to be better. And the answer is, it might be better, it possibly is better. But the data you have doesn't support that, you know, it's pure randomness at this point. And I think people understanding statistics, is going to be more and more important going through and relying on AI, pulling out the right answers. You know, that's clearly risky at this point.

Hannah: Absolutely. And, you know, I can't resist a plug at this point in time, Mike, but if you are struggling, if you're listening to this podcast right now, and you're struggling with understanding your data, get in touch with us, you know, we do this for clients on a day to day basis. And we'd love to help you learn about your data and what it means for your company.

Mike: Or you should be had a business firm or marketing there.

Hannah: I'm definitely in the right role, for sure. Definitely.

Mike: I mean, I think just to finish on the AI topic, though, AI is a good thing. It definitely simplifies access to data analysis of data. And what we're saying is not that, you know, having the AI tool is bad, but relying on people who don't understand the underlying data could be dangerous, you know, AI is gonna make it less dangerous, but it's certainly not necessarily going to solve that problem. So don't think just because there's an AI tool, there's no need for experts, experts can come in and definitely add value.

Hannah: Absolutely. Now I want to stay on the same track of axon Mike but I want to move on to a slightly different topic. And this is because apt on actually recently held a webinar, talking about the strategic approach to switch in mult automations. So it's definitely a sales ploy. They had some good reasons for why people look at leaving. So how complex the platforms are, you know, cost, the lack of product update, and I think it's actually really good thing to bear in mind that, you know, people do look to change mouth automation platforms, but what do you think?

Mike: Well, I actually think sometimes people looking to change marketing automation platforms is just chasing the next shiny thing. To be quite honest, a lot of the platforms have very similar feature sets, and the cost and time involved in switching can be so expensive, the payback time for you know, small incrementally. improvements. I'm not convinced it's worthwhile. See,

Hannah: I have to disagree. Like, because I think actually comes to the details of why it's important to move. So, I mean, take for example, it depends on your goals and your objectives, I think so if you look at HubSpot, for example, they have a really cool SEO function. So if you're a company that's really looking to improve your SEO, you know, this is a goal for you. Actually, I would choose HubSpot, say over a platform like SharpSpring, because HubSpot specialises in providing that SEO features. So though I agree, you know, there's a lot of time and there's an effort spent, I think it really comes down to those specific details of what you're looking to achieve. And sometimes actually making that move is worthwhile.

Mike: And I guess you're right there hammer has always, but I think you know that the HubSpot, it really applies to a particular group of companies. So they're relatively small companies that are using marketing automation. And they don't have a separate SEO function, whether that be in house or outsource to an agency. And then I can see the benefit of HubSpot, they're coming in. But to be honest, I suspect that quite a small percentage of you know, for example, the sharp spring customers, where a lot of them will have other SEO functions. And they'll have more tools available to support that SEO and less need to actually use something like an integrated product like HubSpot, some

Hannah: very good points, Mike, I think it really does depend on your team, your goals, but I'm still gonna stick on my side of the path and say, I think sometimes it's worth it. And I mean, if we look at more like enterprise companies as well, if you're on a HubSpot or SharpSpring, you could actually outgrow that platform very quickly. And then you're looking at more the sales forces, the Marketo platforms, because they're more complex, they enable more automations, that report is more granular. And I think it's important to bear in mind where you are in your journey. So just because you've got one month automation platform, doesn't mean that in five, 710 years time, you're not going to move as your company grows.

Mike: And of course, you're right, again, I'm gonna have to admit I'm wrong and a good thing. We're not recording this, that's all I can say. I think actually, you know, now you've convinced me that there is a reason for switching sometimes, I thought, actually, the act on information, it was quite interesting, because, you know, they've come up with this strategic approach. And basically, you know, what they say is simply migrating what you do to another platform is wrong. And equally, completely starting from scratch on the platform is wrong, you should reuse some of the things you do. But there'll be some things you need to change. I mean, to me, okay, they've created a webinar out of it, you know, they're arguing that it's quicker, I think you've just shouldn't be so dogmatic and say it's one or the other, there shouldn't be a black and white. And to me, it's fairly obvious, you'd make the switch based upon making the best decision. So I'm not sure that their webinar necessarily added a lot to that. But hopefully, it'll give people a reason to think about, you know, for each element of their market automation system, if they're switching to a new platform, then they should consider Should I just continue doing what I'm doing and basically do a migration? Or should I do a rebuild? And actually, that is quite important. And people should think about that a lot before they make the switch. Because, as we mentioned before, it's very time consuming. I

Hannah: can finally say that we're in agreement, Mike. So that's fantastic news for us.

Mike: That might mean I'm right, who knows.

Hannah: So let's stay on the topic of HubSpot, because HubSpot have actually just released their state of marketing and Trends report for 2024. Now, I have to say, I love these reports. You know, we write about them every year on the Napier blog. But I think it was kind of interesting, because there's potentially some trends that I don't necessarily agree with. So I think you know, to start, let's mention, it covers both b2b and b2c. So we have to take the results of a little pinch of salt because we work solely in the b2b sector. I mean, have some obvious stats and trends. So you know, the future of content is going to be personalised, I don't think that's going to shock any marketers out there at the moment. But one thing that really stuck with me is that they had a whole section on how chatbots are the future of marketing, and it all relates into AI, but I just don't necessarily see that happening. What do you think? Well, let's just go

Mike: back to a personalization first, because you covered a couple of things there, Hannah. I totally agree. I think more and more personalization is inevitable. But actually, if you look at what's happening at the moment, very little content really is personalised, particularly in the b2b sector. And I think there's, there's an opportunity for companies to do more. I mean, if you look at Turtle one of the partners we work with, that's an amazing ebook platform that lets you personalise. Actually, the reason most people switched to turtle is the analytics and not the personalization. So, from a b2b point of view, I still think we've got a little way to go until we really can say, Yeah, we're actually moving forward with personalization. I

Hannah: think you've just called me out there, Mike, because I am one of those typical marketers right now that is like we personalise. It's fine. What's HubSpot, speaking about and I think that's a great reminder. that we can always be improving. You know, and you're completely right. There is definitely some elements where there can be more personalization, you know, Account Based Marketing has helped fuel that. And you know, I'm a big fan of turtle when the capabilities it provides in really narrowing down the personalization per company.

Mike: Yeah, I mean, we all can improve. And I think that's something we need to bear in mind. Although nape has recently actually started working with a new platform, where we're actually gonna produce hyper personalised reports for people. So I know you've got a big project working on that. And I'm really excited to see what you produce. I'm

Hannah: very excited to get started on it, Mike. So couple of podcasts time, we can maybe talk about the results.

Mike: Definitely. It'd be great to perhaps talk about some more case studies, I think it'd be a good idea. Let's talk about chatbots, though. So you mentioned the fact that HubSpot said chatbots are gonna be important part of the future. But you weren't so sure. So why do you feel chatbots are not going to be that important.

Hannah: I feel that there are still limitations to chatbots. So though AI has obviously advanced, we've spoken about this a lot. I think sometimes the questions can only be answered by a human counterpart. And I think sometimes marketers rely too heavily on chat bots, were actually in this sales journey. In the buyer journey, this buyer needs this personal connection to know that you're taking their queries their questions seriously, and helping them overcome their challenges. And I just hope that as an industry as within the marketing landscape, we don't become complacent in just expecting chatbots to answer the questions, build relationships, I think it can be used, I just don't think it's going to be the future, it's going to be the one tool that every marketer has to have in their toolbox. What do you think?

Mike: I mean, I think chat bots have got quite a long way to go. And it's easy to point out the problems with chatbots. So certainly agree with them. I mean, there was news a couple of weeks ago in the UK, about a consumer chat bot, from an airline, I think it was, and the chat bots was asked a question and then I think the user typed in something like Swear to me, this is the right answer. And unfortunately, the chat bot interpreted sware very differently to the way maybe a human would, and came up with a few exploitive. So it illustrates the risk of chatbots. And I think in b2b, particularly looking at technical products, which is where a lot of our clients sit, it's super important to get those numbers, right. And what's happens with AI, you know, basically, when you create an AI model, you crush all the information into some sort of compressed format, and you try and expand it out and you use a bit of randomness, actually, to do that. There's a risk, you get the numbers wrong, and people call this hallucinations. It's a real problem. I think there's still a challenge with AI in terms of getting the right numbers all the time. And we're getting closer. And without wishing to be too geeky. I think, you know, the technique of ragging that people talk about in AI is really important, because that lets a look up onto some day to be done. So you can, for example, look up on a data sheet, and then AI is much more likely to get the answer. Right. But I still think it's a risk, you know, equally there was another issue where I think a chatbot offered a discount the company didn't want to offer and the company was held to that discount, the chat bot was held to be basically making a commitment. So we know courts will interpret chat bots on websites as being a commitment by the company. And I think there's areas where chat bots can work really well. And then there's definitely areas where, you know, certainly in the near term chat bots are not reliable enough for most companies to 100% trust them have

Hannah: some really interesting points, I learned a lot even listening to that mic. So thank you. So I mean, let's move on. I know we're coming up to the end of our time today. So I want to have a chat about dynamic emails. And this is part of our insightful Tip of the Week. So we've done a lot of campaigns in the past for dynamic emails. And I have a question for you, Mike, what's the difference between dynamic and static standard emails? And is worth using it?

Mike: I think it's a great question. So dynamic emails are emails that change the content based upon some data. So technically, if you do, sort of dear first name, that's a somewhat dynamic content, because you're going to change the name. But in reality, when we look at Dynamic emails, what they're doing is they're changing big chunks of content in the email. And in fact, we've created campaigns where, literally, there's been multiple sections of email, and none of it is fixed. None of it is static. It all depends on what the user did. And, you know, one campaign I'm thinking of, is a campaign we ran for a client, which was people who bought this product also bought this product. And so they had a effectively a big lookup database. And it said simple things like for example, if you bought a soldering iron, then people who did that also bought solder. Needless to say, you need solar to sold or anything. So it was a really simple concept. It's used a lot. You know, if you buy from Amazon, you'll have seen it, but it's all triggered dynamically because what you don't want to do is have to create a million emails And actually, at one point, that's what they were doing. So if you bought a soldering iron, there was an email, they'd written saying, you bought soldering on think about solar, you're probably going to need it, you know, or alternatively, you bought a hammer, think about some nails. So it's really simple, but they were writing emails. And that wasn't scalable. And it also was very difficult to manage. So I think one of the things dynamic emails do is they let you create an email that can be then reused in multiple occasions. So for example, you know, where people are creating a follow up email, when someone's downloaded an ebook, typically, that structure is the same, you know, maybe what you could be doing is actually taking from the ebook, you know, the name of the ebook, and then perhaps looking up, for example, something that's relevant about that ebook, so some follow up content, putting it into one dynamic email. So then you got one email that's run across multiple campaigns. And I think the more people use dynamic emails, actually, the more manageable their campaigns or it feels difficult and complex at first, but actually, it simplifies things a lot. That's

Hannah: really interesting, Mike, and I'm interested, how easy is it to create dynamic email? So it's going to save a bucket load of time, you know, for marketers, rather than doing these manual emails, but do we create one dynamic template that we then use across multiple campaigns? How does it work? So

Mike: I mean, basically, to create a dynamic email in most marketing automation platforms is pretty easy, you have different chunks of content. And you either insert basically the content from the contact record or the company record, or you select a different content block based upon data that's held in the company or contact record. So you know, it's really simple. And you can control lots of things that way. So, as an example, one use of dynamic emails is for translations. So you create one email. And then what you do is you'd switch the language. So you change the content based upon the language that that person wants to receive. And typically, that language is driven primarily by the country in which they reside, obviously, as a few European countries that make it a little more difficult, because they have multiple languages. But basically, that's how you do it. So you'd switch the content. In language, you'd have one email to maintain. And that means that you don't have to go hunting around for 1015 emails for multiple translations, you've got one email, you just changed that dynamic content. So it's really easy to do. And I think, you know, what people need to think about is, when you've got an email that is basically the same, but you're changing the words inside or maybe the images, but the structure is the same, you know, the sections the same, there, maybe it's better to do it dynamically than it is to try and create lots of static emails, and particularly, you know, again, because that dynamic content will all be together. If you need to change all of that content, then it's very easy to do, because it's all held together. Rather than being spread across multiple emails. I would encourage people to use it. It's a great way to personalise campaigns, something we've talked about earlier, because as soon as you're using dynamic content, typically it's driven by personalization. And it's a great feature on a lot of marketing automation tools. That I think, you know, sometimes people are a little bit scared of using, particularly if they're not marketing automation experts. That's

Hannah: so insightful. Thank you, Mark. I mean, my mind is already worrying about how we can implement dynamic emails for Napier. So if I've got ideas about personalization, I'm sure our listeners have to.

Mike: That's great. And I know you've got lots of ideas, so I'm looking forward to seeing those campaigns.

Hannah: Thanks so much for your time today, Mike. It's been a fantastic conversation.

Mike: Thanks, Hannah. It's been really good again, and look forward to the next episode.

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 Inge Boubez - 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.


“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:

STAT Search Analytics website:

STAT Search Analytics on LinkedIn:

STAT Search Analytics on Twitter:

STAT Search Analytics on Instagram:

Moz website:

Moz on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

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Napier LinkedIn:

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:

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.


“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:

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

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:

BrandGuard website:

BrandGuard on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

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.


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 And then you can email me, I'm just rob at brain 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.


“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:

Outbrain website:

Outbrain on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

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 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 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.


“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:

MRP website:

MRP on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

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

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.


“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:

Hannah Wehrly on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

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:

A Napier Podcast Interview with Regpack and 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:

Regpack website:

Regpack on LinkedIn:

Follow Kirsty:

Kirsty Dawe on LinkedIn:

Webeo website:

Webeo on LinkedIn:

Follow Mike:

Mike Maynard on LinkedIn:

Napier website:

Napier LinkedIn:

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:

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.


“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.

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Joe Zappa on LinkedIn:

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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