A Napier Podcast Interview with Cat Anderson - Sprout Social

In this podcast episode, we interview Cat Anderson, Head of EMEA Marketing at Sprout Social, a social media management solution.

Cat shares how she started her career in digital marketing, spending time working at Berlin-based technology start-ups before eventually landing at Sprout Social. She discusses the current lack of creativity in B2B social media compared to B2C, the opportunity this presents, and how social media offers a great, relatively low-cost platform for experimentation.

Cat also shares the benefits and insights social media tools can offer users and gives some tips and tricks on how to stand out and overcome a reluctance to be creative.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Cat Anderson – Sprout Social

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Cat Anderson

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 b2b marketing the podcast from Napier. Today I'm joined by Cat Anderson. Ken is the head of marketing for Sprout Social. Welcome to the podcast. Hi, Mike. It's lovely to be here. Thanks for having me.

Well, thanks so much for coming on. I'm really interested because I had a quick look at your LinkedIn page. And you've had a really interesting career. Can you tell us what you've done? And how you've ended up at Sproutsocial?

Cat: Yeah, no problem at all. Yeah, it has been a bit of an interesting one. Now, to be fair. So basically, when I immediately came out of university, the world had collapsed in 2008. So a nice little recession to start my working career off with. And, and I promised the story gets interesting. But after a couple of years of sort of doing some freelance work with the BBC, which I was very lucky to do, I was doing odd jobs, we jobs here and there, I actually entered the channel for reality TV show come down with me on a bit of a whim, having never cooked before. And I came joint first. And with the 500 points that I want from that, I decided to go and visit a friend in Berlin. And I don't know if you've ever had one of those experiences Mike, where you go somewhere, and you're just very instantly taken with it. And I really at that point, that was about 2010 2011, I was really taken with Berlin, there was a huge scene of startups and entrepreneurial sort of tech. And it really caught my attention coming from Northern Ireland originally, there wasn't a lot of that in Belfast. So I just decided to move over there. And I threw myself headfirst into the world of startups. This is where I got really into digital marketing. And I stayed there for five, six years.

And then I came back to Ireland and and worked for a couple of larger companies until Yeah, eventually 1516 months ago landed at Sprout Social. And I have to say I was really enticed by this role in particular, because although sprite is an international company, its HQ in Chicago. So a lot of the team is based over in the States. There is a very, very quickly growing team based here in EMEA in Dublin. And we have like other people dotted all around Europe. But I thought the opportunity was quite unique, because you would have that feeling of a startup of building something up from scratch, but also with the budget of Big Brother in the States. So that was kind of like a perfect for me a perfect dream because you could get that startup vibe, but with a little bit of a of an enterprise budget, which is surely any marketer's dream.

Mike: No, absolutely. And you're not alone in terms of American companies who have bases in Dublin either. Yeah. So it'd be interesting to investigate what would have happened if your cooking wasn't quite so good on come down. I know. That's probably another podcast.

Cat: I think that as well, because it's such a bizarre story. If I didn't go to Berlin, where would I be? No, I don't know.

Mike: But anyway, you ended up with sprout, which is great. I mean, I have to ask this because when we think of social media, we see a lot of creativity in consumer sector. But b2b really seems to lag, particularly in terms of doing things that are interesting, creative. Why do you think that is?

Cat: So this is a conversation I feel like I've been having quite a lot recently. And one report that I always refer to and would really recommend for anybody to read is The b2b Institute, which is actually like a LinkedIn Think Tank, they released a report called the b2b effectiveness code, which coincided with the new b2b marketing award that was launched at Cannes earlier this year. And in it, they basically analysed, you know, I don't even know how many different types of b2b marketing in terms of what the overall return to the business would be. And they came up with this really interesting effectiveness ladder, which shows what is good and what is not that good long term. And one thing that was really key and Kemo and huge in abundance was that b2b marketing is really sort of lacking in creativity.

And I think to your point, this is something that we see on social in abundance with b2c companies, because social is fast. Social is for the most part, relatively cheap for you to experiment with different types of marketing so fast and cheap means you can kind of throw loads of different ideas onto the plate and see what sticks. But b2b just isn't really following suit with this. And I think this report says and I'm inclined to agree that there's a little bit of a lacking of creativity and this is yeah,

It's certainly something that I agree with. I don't know, what do you think, Mike?

Mike: I mean, I completely agree, I think one of the problems is is b2b tends to be incredibly conservative.

And, and equally, you're trying to appeal to a hugely broad demographic in b2b. So, from everyone from graduates who are coming out and you know, a very immersed in social media, they understand what people are trying to do to have fun on Tik Tok or other platforms. And then at the other end, you've got people like me who are much older, perhaps less, you know, looking for the fun things who perhaps wouldn't view something that was cool for a 20 year old as being something that is a campaign that should be run by one of their suppliers. And I think I think that that broad demographic is particularly challenging for a lot of b2b brands.

Cat: Yeah, I think that's a very fair observation. But I think I mean, I hope that it's changing because I think that, for all businesses, having a sense of agility, and not being afraid to change is always going to yield results for you. But yeah, we'll see, I think it's going to change. So like, watch this space.

Mike: Do you think one of the challenges b2b brands have is that they do so much on LinkedIn, which obviously appeals to this incredibly broad demographic, they don't have the ability to segment their social into different activities for different channels. Do you think that that's holding b2b back?

Cat: I think it's interesting, I don't think that they don't have the ability to use the other channels, I think it's that they just never maybe just don't know how to use them and to their defence as well. There's not a lot of examples of b2b brands, really utilising effective cross channel marketing across all of the different social media channels. LinkedIn is a really, really obvious choice, because it's obviously the one that's been earmarked as for business. But again, we're not seeing people sort of really step outside their comfort zone and do really interesting things. So I think there are b2b campaigns that are happening where people are starting to test the waters and starting to try new things. But compared to the b2c market, it's a lot slower. Personally speaking, I think this means that there's a real opportunity to maybe stand out in a good way by trying maybe looking to the b2c marketing ideas that have been working and thinking, would they work with our audience? Could this be adopted? Is this something that we could try in a way that we feel comfortable with in a way that probably most importantly, we can get signed off? Because I think because no one's really raising their head above the parapet. There's a real opportunity, therefore, to be like, to really stand out in a good way, I suppose as well, you could also argue in a bad way. But if you do it right, in a good way.

Mike: But then I guess that there's a challenge around working out who to target, you know, in b2b, it's actually relatively easy to build communities around particular products or technologies. It's much harder in in those other platforms to do that.

Cat: Yeah, I mean, yes, I think so. But something that I firmly believe, and I'm very happy for you to tell me that I'm wrong and naive, is that ultimately, with b2b Marketing, you are still marketing to a person. So you can still find ways to connect with people, even if it's not in like a LinkedIn group that is specifically around a product or a service. I think that there are still other ways to connect with your ideal customer type. So for a lot of the time, of course, you're going to be thinking about the brands that you are and the types of companies that you want to market to. But further down from that, we can have a think about like, well, who are the buying personas within these companies that you like? And what other ways could we get a little bit creative and try to reach them on different platforms? I think it's potentially a little bit closed off to say that it's not possible to build those communities on other platforms. I know that there definitely are lots of companies who do things on Instagram, for example. And of course, depending on, you know, what the product is, there are probably other platforms that you can consider as well. But yeah, I mean, I definitely I would not close the door on b2b companies being able to find a different type and maybe a new sort of ship of success on different platforms. But I agree, I don't think anybody is doing it yet at all, and doesn't really know how to do it.

Mike: No, I think it's difficult. I mean, I see people, for example, doing retargeting advertising on Facebook was a very easy thing to do, to get an audience that you know, but I think building that organic audiences is much harder. Nobody's really cracked that. Even with Facebook, I mean, there was a period where everybody wanted their own Facebook group, and from b2b and pretty much none of those have been vibrant or exciting or successful.

Cat: It's an interesting one, because obviously, all of these platforms change so quickly, as well. And as you say, everybody was mad about the Facebook groups for a while and that's maybe not the primary user experience on Facebook now. So you know, we don't really know exactly how they will evolve, but it's very clear that they will evolve. And again, potentially for b2b, it's going to be getting a bigger flywheel into motion to get this sort of marketing campaign set up. So if it's feeling like it's too quick and transient, it might be putting people off.

Mike: I mean, one of the things we are seeing that maybe is a bit more creative is people building their own personal brand around their career. But yet we see you know, even in larger companies, people building a brand that's maybe not quite in the same style and tone of voice as as the corporation, do you think that's a good thing? Or do you think marketers should actually be trying to ensure that there's consistency, and people's personal brand should reflect the company they work for?

Cat: I mean, this is a great question, you Rotter? This is a difficult question. I think that having a personal brand, and marketing and a slightly different tone of voice from your company shouldn't be an issue unless it is so drastically different that it's actually crossing some of the values of the company or anything like that.

I definitely know of some people within different companies who fit exactly what you've just described. And I don't see that there's any issues. And in fact, I see that those people who've built up a personal brand, and are very well known for being Tom Smith, who works at AIX, it is an attribute to the company, I think that having strong individuals can be a definitely can be an attribute, or can be another branch of how people see your company and like put a little bit of a human face to it. I don't think they have to be mutually exclusive. But I do understand then the marketers concerned about having a consistency with the tone of voice. And so I think having something like an advocacy tool in place can be helpful where you can control the messaging, if that's something that you're really, really concerned about. And you're like, I want my employees to share information about the company. But I don't really want them just to be saying it in any which way, if you've got a very, very, very strict tone of voice, then absolutely use an advocacy tool. There's ways around that. And I think you can control that. And that's great. It's definitely always good to be encouraging your employees to share things because it's a great, easy way to reach into new networks. But I heard Yeah, I personally think that it's a good thing to show that you have people in your company who are passionate about what they do, who are free to be themselves, especially in the current climate as well you want to be it's good for your employer brand, as well to show that you are helping people be passionate about their jobs develop themselves as well as promoting the company.

Mike: Sounds great. It sounds like you're really in favour of diversity in the broadest sense of the word. You know, a company should be lots of different people rather than one single voice.

Cat: I definitely think diversity has been proven time and time again, like across all sectors to be something that should be embraced and encouraged. As far as possible. I think it will only bring, it'll only bring good things avoid groupthink.

And yeah, if you can encourage it, definitely do.

Mike: I mean, on the other hand, though, I think a lot of b2b companies actually a less worried about the enthusiastic social media users, they're much more worried about trying to encourage the average salesperson to do something on on social, how would you go about trying to get the sales team more engaged in social selling?

Cat: Wow, we again, a great question. As a marketer, I know that it always is in my best interest to make things as simple as possible for the sales team. And so I do think having an advocacy tool is really helpful for that where you can just take away any friction that anyone in the sales team might have with regards to time or trying to think of how to promote things.

And it is something that we offer at sprout, but I know you could, there are alternatives available. But with an advocacy tool, you can just have everything ready to go it's a couple of clicks, making it super duper easy. Another thing as well, I guess, is to be creating content that's made with the sales team in mind as well. So if you're a company that is specifically targeting other enterprises in a certain industry, and your sales team say that a certain topic has come up time and time again, in their sales conversations, creating content that you know, is going to like light a fire within them. I think like just listening to them is also a great way to try and get them on board and get them to be active with sharing the content.

Mike: So actually going out and engaging the sales team is an important part in terms of determining what content you create, as well as trying to motivate them

Cat: Yeah, to an extent now I do think as any marketer will tell you, you can't be doing every single thing that the sales team are telling you to do. Because otherwise you will be working seven days a week, 24 hours a day. There's always going to be other requests coming in. But yes, I definitely think listening to the people that are having those frontline conversations so you know best what content is going to resonate?

To me, that's a no brainer.

Mike: That makes sense. If people are listening to say they're trying to move forward, I mean, obviously, one of the things they can do is talk to the sales team. But if they're looking to prioritise their social media, how would you go about doing that? Would you look at targeting specific platforms first, or what would be your your first steps to building a social media plan?

Cat: So I think the first thing that I always say for any any question of this type is about data. So I think having a data foundation before anything is always a good plan, I can help you choose your strategy and pick your goals wisely. So understanding, first of all, the lay of the land of what you have done so far, what has worked, what hasn't worked, what you looking at that understanding, like what you wish could have gone better, and then creating your strategies around that.

It's also good just to have some like, initial benchmark pieces of data to work from, so you can measure your success or not. I think as well, having we mentioned it already. But knowing what your tone of voice is, like already understanding if that's something your company is prepared to be flexible with at all could also determine which platforms you might have success in.

And then of course, thinking about your audience. So if you want to keep it very, very much about trying to just reach other companies, that's fine. Maybe it is like, let's stick with LinkedIn. But if you do want to go down to that persona level marketing, that's where you can maybe consider different platforms that you could be incorporating into your overall strategy.

I do think as well, to be honest with you, I think if you're coming up with a social media strategy, generally, it's really good to have an attitude of experimentation. Because as I mentioned earlier, it does move very fast. There's lots of opportunity here. And it's all relatively low risk. I mean, of course, we all know that there are moments where things can go desperately wrong. And you know, when you can say something that's incredibly tone deaf, but I think those are actually pretty rare in the grand scheme of things. It's social media is a great testing ground for trying out new things and seeing like, what will stick. And it's something where you can try out things that you maybe want to try and other areas of your marketing strategy, just to sort of see what the audience reception to it is like, Finally, then I think closing it off with data as well is really important.

And after you've run any kind of campaign, you're obviously going to want to know how it's performed. Again, I think that if you're doing this on social media, not just necessarily using the analytics platforms that are available on the actual platforms. But again, I'm obviously going to say this working at Sprite, but um, but other platforms are available, using a social media analytics tool, where you can actually have a deeper look, or using something like social listening, where you can understand exactly how your customers and your prospects prospective customers are talking about you understanding the sentiment around different campaigns that you've run, you can get so much more data, lead and deep insight into how your campaigns are performing, which is, again, not only useful for how you move forward with your social media strategy, but how you can apply it to other areas of your marketing as well.

Mike: That's interesting. I think one of the fascinating things is you've talked a little bit about tools. And you've mentioned data and analytics, you've mentioned advocacy tools. What elements of a tool do you need to really get the best out of social media? I mean, I know you're from sprout, but what sort of things to sprout to, in addition to just posting content?

Cat: Yeah. So I think it's funny because I definitely think a lot of people know Sproat for that entry level use of publishing and scheduling, which is obviously really helpful. And that consolidation of all of your channels in one place, although that is at the ground level what we offer, and then that's like level one.

It is, I don't want to say that that's not incredibly useful as well, it's a huge way to save time, and to make things a lot easier for anyone who's running your social media. But further from that, yeah, I've mentioned a couple of the different things that I know that is offered in sprout. So like having a deeper look at your analytics. So we've got a section of our tool called premium Analytics, which is where you can have that deep insight into all of your social media performances and also beyond your own content, having a look at how people are talking about you like competitive insight.

You can access all of that because it's all publicly available on the web anyway, then I do think as well, we've got things like the advocacy tool. So as well as that's making sure that if people are wanting to share things about your company, you want to make it super duper easy. We can do that. And then of course, there's things that we can offer where we can help chat like set up chat bots for you. There's like there's a whole heap of different things. And actually, if you're interested, I'd recommend taking out a free trial, which we offer. I have to get that in there, Mike, I hope you don't mind.

Mike: And that's actually great. So tell us about the free trial. What can people do with the free trials that are limited product? How can they actually find out about sprout?

Cat: Yeah, of course. So I mean, the websites always the best port of call sprout social.com. And we will very, it's a very easy direction to finding where the free trial is, it's like right there front and centre. The free trial itself is no obligation, 30 days, you get to use the tool inside and I touch social media accounts. It doesn't have the premium analytics and social listening attached to it as the free trial option. But I might live to regret this, if you if you do want to try it, and you would like to have those assets attached, get in touch with me, are at Cat Anderson on LinkedIn, I will be happy to sort that out for you. I mean, we can get that sorted. That's absolutely fine.

Mike: That's awesome. That's really kind. And then people are gonna want to try the tool. So maybe the next question is, do you have any like hints or tips, ideas, you could give people of how they might do something on social perhaps on LinkedIn, that's going to stand out, there's going to be better and more creative than everybody else.

Cat: Oh, so I know, we spoke a little bit before the podcast, Mike about this. And I firmly believe that, especially with the advent of this new award at Cannes, and all of the there's a lot of buzz of the minute and all of the marketing presses about creativity in b2b marketing. I also do think a massive trend that we see in social media is personality led marketing, where we're starting to see brands shake off the sense so much of them being a business and you start to feel the people behind the accounts a little bit more. So we're seeing things where people are having a little bit more fun cracking a few more jokes, or it could be that they're turning how people view their industry on their head.

I always use this example. But Monzo bank, I think do a really amazing job on social media. So obviously, they're an online bank, if anyone doesn't know them. And obviously, when we think of financial institutions, we always think of, you know, security and trust and CFT. And typically, that results in a very, like stared conservative and steady kind of voice. And ones who have kind of switched this up to like, I mean, I have to hand it to them to a wonderful effect, which is that they have decided that okay, that is absolutely true that people want someone that they trust and very, like safe, blah, blah, blah. But their tone of voice on social is that they've decided, well, people probably would also like to bank with someone that they feel that they could talk to, or maybe ask a question that they're not, you know, going to feel silly by asking if they don't really have that much financial acumen.

So their tone of voice is very data driven. It's they talk about data a lot. But it's also very friendly. And they do crack a few jokes, not too much. Let's bear in mind, they are still a financial institution. So they're not like doing stand up comedy, though. But I think they've done it to great effect, you know, they're becoming very, very popular choice. And for people who have chosen to go like, Okay, well, yeah, I do want CFD and trust. But I actually want someone who I think is friendly, and who I can ask questions to as well. So I think there's opportunities just to maybe think about how people view your industry.

Think about if there's opportunities where you can show a little bit of personality in a way that will make you stand out from your competitors. I just think in the b2b world, it's, it will be a game changer. And I know Mike, again, we talked about this, and I'm interested, I'm happy for you to argue with me.

I think personality lead marketing is what is going I think it's going to sweep right, I think it's only starting in b2c. But I think it's going to continue, not maybe totally comprehensively through every single b2b company in the world. But I think we're going to start to see a lot more of it, as people understand that a calculated risk with a little bit of humanity. People really respond incredibly well to it.

Mike: Yeah, I can see where you're coming from. I may be a little less optimistic about people willing to take those risks. And maybe, I don't know if you agree with this, but maybe Monzo taking a risk is because they're more of a challenger brand. And the more established incumbents are going to be much slower to take risk, because they've got much more to lose.

Cat: 100% I definitely think so. And I think this is, it's the blessing and the curse of being an established enterprise block brand. People know who you are, you have that stability, you have that brand recognition, but it means that it is it's definitely it's harder, again, to get that flywheel of change into motion. It's, you know, there's actually a bigger distance to go.

Mike: Yeah, I agree. I mean, I do think that some of the smaller the emerging brands are going to be much more adventurous than some of the bigger ones and maybe that will ultimately force the big established brands to be more creative, but I do think there's a significant amount of loss aversion amongst big brands at the moment, they're very worried about making mistakes. And there's lots of cases where big brands have made mistakes.

This has been great. It's been very interesting. Definitely could talk a lot more about social and what people could do.

But before we finish, is there any sort of tips or ideas or suggestions you'd like to give people as a way to try and overcome their reluctance to be creative? Maybe it's a campaign, you've seen that people could copy or something like that?

Cat: Yeah, well, I think like, my first tip would be definitely to check out the b2b effectiveness code that came out from the b2b Institute, I think it's a really interesting read for anybody who is in the world of b2b marketing, and certainly, for myself, even has helped me put a lot of framework on how my next 18 months strategy looks like. So I would really recommend checking out that report. Secondly, was thinking about, like, what b2b campaigns do you think have been particularly effective. And I think a few years ago, we saw a lot of larger companies starting to go down almost like, I think it was a little bit of a trend of like cinematic YouTube videos, or almost like mini movies.

So there was, let me see HBS, the wolf was Christian Slater, and there was Maersk, which is like the global logistics company, they did this like one called disconnected where they were all in an elevator and it was very trippy. But I kind of do think that the the way things are trending at the minute, like big, large cinematic campaigns, I don't think we're going to like sort of cut the mustard anymore. And in fact, we're going in completely the opposite direction, which is shorter video is really, really like what people is grabbing people's attention.

Unfortunately, our attention spans are being eroded away at a rate of knots, and so shorter is better. So I think like, Chuck, your five minute videos into the bin and start thinking in shorter terms, I think as well. Another thing that, to be honest, I always think is really, really helpful is no, I'm not going to say case studies, because Lord helped me case studies are, I think they always make a marketer sort of dive a little bit inside, because they're always quite difficult to get across the line. There's a lot of rigmarole with them.

But I do think having like user generated content, so if you can find any way to work with your customers, like that's, that is evergreen, you know. So that's if you can show the people that you're working with, and like I personally always like to try and find more agile ways to do that, to show Yeah, look, shining a spotlight on whatever it is that your customer is doing. But also in a way where you've got that brand alignment as well. I think that's always really, really helpful. And yeah, that's, that's evergreen, to be fair. So maybe if you can get that, squish it into a little tick tock video. I'm only joking. But yeah, those are really my two, my two little tips.

Mike: Awesome, if that's super helpful. So you've already said people are okay to contact you on LinkedIn, which is very kind and you'll also help them out with a trial and making sure they can try the whole of the product, which is great. Is there any other way people should get ahold of you if they've got questions?

Cat: Yeah, I mean, I think probably LinkedIn is best. To be fair, I do use it pretty regularly. As I say, it's, it's cut Anderson? Yeah, I think we're just leave it at LinkedIn. How many listeners do you have on this mic? So if I put out my email address, I think it could be, I could have an influx?

Mike: Well, I can let you into a podcast secret, actually. Because whenever I appear on other podcasts, I always give out my email address, and I've never had more than one email. So either I'm incredibly boring, or most people contact through social so

Cat: well, I'll say that. I mean, it's not it won't take a rocket science scientist to figure out my email. It's cat dot Anderson at Sprout social.com. But I'm very happy to chat to anyone. So please feel free and it's cat with a C, just like the animal. That's awesome. And hopefully people won't fill up your inbox too much.

Mike: Or if they do, it's just with people wanting to become Sproutsocial customers. I really appreciate that. The conversation has been such fun. Thank you so much for being on the podcast. I've really enjoyed it.

Cat: Thank you so much, Mike. Me too.

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 Marc Mustard - ABB Robotics

In the first interview of our leading B2B marketing professionals’ series, we talk to Marc Mustard, Global Head of Content and Brand at ABB Robotics, a pioneer in robotics, machine automation and digital services.

Marc gives insight into his career, how he came to work in robotics, and how he thinks the robotics industry will change the way we live. He also shares his thoughts on why there is no standard approach to B2B campaigns, and how marketers can be creative, as well as why it's time to stop thinking of business-to-business/business-to-consumer and time to think of business-to-human.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Marc Mustard - ABB Robotics

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Marc Mustard

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 Marc mustard. Marc is the head of content and brand for ABB for the robotics division. Welcome to the podcast Marc.

So first, I had a look at your LinkedIn, you've had a very interesting career history. Do you want to tell people listening about what you've done and how you've ended up working promoting robotics?

Marc: Yeah, so as was quite a traditional route for a lot of people. Back in the day, I started off as a journalist, trained as a journalist, I was working on my local paper when I was 15/16, had a radio show in my local area when I was 16. And then I went to university to study journalism in Edinburgh. And from there, I worked for a couple of car magazines with a Press Association in the UK, which is the national news agency of the UK. And then I worked for Auto Express magazine. The UK is largest selling weekly car mag.

And then I went to Australia for a while and worked on wheels magazine down there, which is the sort of car magazine of record in Australasia. And then I made the switch into communications. So as I say, quite a well trodden path started off working for SCADA in the UK. And then I worked for a couple of agencies, communications agencies, and also when BMW with many Bentley, and the last car company I worked for was Lotus up until about two years ago, when I moved into robotics.

And, yeah, I'm a car guy, I love cars. But when the opportunity was presented to me to work for the world's leading robotics company, and the sort of, I don't know that the relevance of what it is robotics can bring to society and industry, and people's everyday lives, it really struck a chord with me, you know, selling sports cars to middle age men is fun, and quite easy, a lot of the time. But when you're talking about, you know, the future of work, the future of healthcare, the future of things like construction, it, it really, it feels really, really relevant, really societally relevant.

And it's fascinating also, so I think, you know, where we are now versus where we'll be in sort of 10/15 years time will be night and day. And I think robotics has got a huge part to play in a lot of our lives. And I think it's going to be majority positive and beneficial to society. So it was kind of an opportunity to do something a different but be that was going to make a proper difference. If you save one life on a construction site, very dangerous places, construction safety, save one life and a construction site by having robots do something rather than humans. That's great. And people don't have to do menial, dirty, dangerous doll jobs anymore. They can go and do more uplifting and rewarding things, then there's a net benefit to society there. So that was kind of the appeal to me. And I'm glad I made the move, because there's some really, really interesting people at ABB. And it does some really, really cool stuff. And yeah, I've always been interested in cool stuff.

Mike: I think certainly, although you've moved for some very cool car companies. Moving to robotics is certainly one of the coolest industries in the world. So I can understand that. I was really interested, you sort of said Marketing sportscars is fun. Whereas you kind of said Marketing robotics is about changing the world. Do you think that's a kind of general reflection of consumer versus b2b Marketing that b2b perhaps has more impact, but maybe it's a bit less fun?

Marc: Honestly, I find the phrases b2b and b2c, I find them strange and probably a little bit anachronistic these days. I think b2b and b2c made perfect sense when you were talking about different print verticals that you were talking to, right. So if you're a b2b, b2c, you would be talking to an auto car. And if you were talking b2b, you'd be talking about em or car dealer or whatever, you don't like much more niche technical publications, whereas I think given the way things have changed, obviously online websites, podcasts, all the different content avenues that are available to you as a company and as a storyteller within a company. I don't really believe in either of those anymore. I believe in b2b Ah, so business to human and I think you might be an engineer, you might be a production line director in a car company or a distribution plant or a logistics centre or something like that. But you're a human being you're a guy or a girl who has a whole life outside of what they do on a day to day basis at work. And what engages people? Well, beautiful pictures, interesting films, interesting people, interesting conversations, detailed depth. We're in the business of attention, all of us, you guys at Napier, US ABB, you're in the business of attention. And there are so much out there today that is vying for people's attention nonstop.

I mean, you know, before we before I joined you today, I've got three screens on the go, right? As I'm sure you do. And a lot of people listening to you got three screens, you've got seven or eight different forms of different methods of getting in touch with you on Messenger and WhatsApp, etc, etc. So you're in the business of attention, and how do you get people's attention? You get people's attention by engaging them in an engaging way. I'm not sitting here thinking, How do I look at engineers, and it has to be grain facts and details and data points? No, they're human beings. And they want to see things that uplift them things that are new, interesting, different, a different perspective on something when I first started is going wow, you know, six months ago, I was taking pictures of sports cars going around the coronation beautiful, beautiful blue sky, and you're doing silly speeds with lots of pops, bangs and whistles coming from these cool sports cars, but actually doing a shoot with some of the our new Cobots in a warehouse in Munich in you know, whenever it was December, that was snowing outside, it was really complex. That was the first time we'd ever done it. That to me was so rewarding, because it was new territory. And we were trying to bring that content to people in a much more engaging, interesting, human way. So yeah, it's not to diminish anything people do when people are still working car companies. That's there's a huge amount of skill involved there. But what appeals to me about working for ABB is that a lot of what we do is being done for the first time, you're treading virgin territory, trying to think of a new way of expressing yourself and telling that story. So I find that hugely interesting. Yeah. And it's helped by the fact that it's all really societally relevant, and the products are excellent. And the company behind all is really clever.

Mike: I'm interested here, do you think that there's more opportunity almost to be creative in b2b Because a consumer has been driven by creativity for a long time. But at the same time, if you're Marketing a car, you're gonna take roughly the same picture of any car, doing roughly the same thing to promote it, whereas b2b, there is no standard way to approach things.

Marc: Yeah, it's having the, for me, it's all about your mindset. It's a mindset thing. So yes, it might be an industrial product, it might be a product, that it might be a thing that builds other things. But that's not to say that you can't convey that story and tell that story in a really interesting and engaging way. So is there a new way of bringing the data point? So you know, graphical overlays? Or is there a way of this is too complex to get into a picture. So it's not a picture of film, it's a podcast. And then with the podcast medium, you know, we do our own podcast, you've got your work, like you've got this opportunity to go into detail and tell the story, the rich, the rich, detailed, and the varied story that you've got. So it makes you think, sort of laterally quite a lot. I genuinely think that there's a top and a bottom to this, right. There's the actual people who buy the stuff, production line directors, board members for engineering and production organiser, there's probably a handful, 1000 of them around the entire world, right. So why bother? Why don't we just take them all out for dinner, and make them all our friends, right. But that's not the point. The point is, those decisions are influenced by other people. And that could be people in procurement. There could be people, it could be their family. It could be anybody. The world is so holistic these days, and there's so many different influences on all of us. So I kind of think that yes, you want to you want to focus on the people who actually made the decision. But coming up from the bottom here, you've got this groundswell of goodwill awareness.

When I worked for Bentley, right, very few of us can afford to buy a Bentley 200,000 pound car, beautiful, handcrafted piece of art. However, what what do you want? Do you want just the people that can afford a Bentley to be positively predisposed to it? Or do you want everybody who sees one drive passed on the road go, oh, that's a that's a Continental GT speed that does 209 miles an hour and it's got 15 hides in the end. You know what I mean? Like, you want that groundswell of positivity and awareness, because that makes all of the other decisions and all the other influences that could affect the people making the key decision at the top, feel positively predisposed to you. So it's a huge it's a huge task. It's basically everything and everybody all of the time, but that's what I aim for. That's, I want the guy who is going into the procurement meeting that morning to come downstairs for breakfast. And I want his 13 year old son who's on YouTube. Good Dad, Dad, have you seen this cool film of this robot painting this car with an artist's artwork? That is the sort of thing that influences people. And that that's my mindset. It's a bit daunting sometimes. But I genuinely think that's the way we have to go at these things.

Mike: I think it's fascinating. I mean, one of the things he you seem to be very focused on is improving, I guess, the image of robots, I think, you know, in industry, there's been a little bit of a focus on all the robots taking people's jobs. Whereas the things you're talking about a very different it's about improving safety, about doing things people couldn't do without robots. I mean, to me, you seem to be a complete believer in the benefits of automation.

Marc: Absolutely, you don't shy away from the fact that yes, a lot of jobs will go and be replaced with robots. But a huge, more jobs will be created as a result of the increased use of automation. So welding, people who do rebar on cotton construction sites, people who are involved in the installation of elevator shafts, that those jobs will go. But there's a really, really strong argument to say that human beings shouldn't be anywhere near those jobs anyway, because they're super dangerous. I don't think I'm being misleading when I say welding is potentially carcinogenic, that's not something you'd want human beings to be doing really, anyway. So So yes, let's take people away from those. We say dull, dirty, dangerous jobs, and give them the opportunity, the education, the ability to do something more rewarding, more uplifting, more appropriate for the humanity that only human beings can have. I mean, Samiha ter president, he always talks about, you can't, you'll never replace humans in terms of their abilities and the breadth of their talents and their skills.

But at the same time, there are certain things you don't really want people to be doing anymore, and we shouldn't as responsible employers and countries. So 100% I believe in it when I talk about it, or sometimes you get bogged down in the day to day of your job and the doing of the doing. But when I talk to people over a coffee or whatever about the potential and the scope for where the next decade will go, yeah, man I get I get really excited because it's it. Like I said, you're making a difference. And yeah, I'm just, I'm just a storyteller. I'm not, I'm not inventing the products. I'm not a clever software engineer or robotic engineer.

But I just think that the more people that understand and know about the potential and the benefit, the better it is for everybody. I mean, you look at it, right? I mean, 18 year old kids now leaving school, they don't want to go work at a construction site. We did a survey last year, they can't get off people, because nobody wants to do those jobs. Because they're you're outside. It's raining or it's too sunny. It's heavy. It's physically demanding. I mean, I guess they're fairly well paid, but it's not something people want to do. So what do you do? Stop building houses? No, of course, you don't stop building houses. Because we've got more and more people, the demand isn't going away. The ability to fill the demand meet the demand, rather, is diminishing, have to find a solution. It's not it's not a case of robots taking jobs, you know, should we shouldn't we, we have to welding there's a million almost a million open jobs in America for welding. Nobody wants to no one leaves High School in America where they've got Instagram, and they're looking at all their pals. And it's all everybody's Instagram famous and having a great time and living their best life. They're gonna say, Ah, I really want to be a welder who wants to be a welder? And that's no harm to welders. It's an important thing and all the rest of it, but there is a solution.

We need to investigate it. We need to, obviously those jobs need to be replaced the opportunity people need other things to do, but that will come inevitably when? Right Okay, the one the analogy that I love the most is when the car came around when the automobile was first invented that at the tail end of the 1800s into the early part of the 1900s. Yes, there was a point where farriers and people who were involved in horse coachbuilders for horse drawn cars, there was probably this there was probably a point in time where they didn't know which way was up, and they were there. Well, the sky is falling, and we're in trouble here. But they didn't all die of starvation at the side of the road. They went and did other things. They took the skills and the abilities that they had, and they had honed over the years, and they put them to good use elsewhere. coachbuilders being a perfect example they they stopped building coaches to be drawn by horses, and they started building cars. People like Mulliner and all those guys, they diversified and that's what will happen. I think there's probably a point where it's uncomfortable, inevitably, but we're human beings like We're the most incredible things ever. As far as I'm concerned, we won't just perish and starve at the side of the road, we will diversify and figure something else out and go and do that. And that's exciting to me. Because, yes, you're looking at the fundamentals, the Keystones, of you know, this job that job dedicated to the automation. But what does that mean? Like? What will that mean for humanity in society? What will it look like when all that other stuff is going on in the background? Who knows? Who knows? And that's, that's, that's exciting.

Mike: I mean, that's such a positive view. I love that. I'd like to move on to to actually your job now. And I mean, the first thing that strikes me is, you know, having a title like Head of Content and brand for ABB robotics is such a broad row. I mean, how do you decide, you know, when you come in in the morning, how do you pick priorities, how you decide what to focus on?

Marc: I love the idea that they're like selection of priorities is my choice. The way I look at things is what's going to make the most impact. We all have a there's a finite number of hours in the day. There are other things. We all have a life outside of work. There are other things demanding our attention. In my case, a couple of little people that need need me to be around and all the rest of it. So I prioritised by what's going to make the most difference? What's the reach of this thing? What's the potential audience? Which of our key messages is it delivering? Most obviously, because it's easy to be a busy fool, right? We can all be busy falls, no problem you could fill, especially in the post pandemic world where you look at your calendar each day in between eight and six. It's just nothing but teams meetings and zoom meetings, where do you do the work around that the actual doing of the do? So I try and prioritise the things that make the most difference? The biggest impact what's got the longest tail? And it's hard sometimes, because obviously, there's a lot of demands, and everybody thinks that their thing is the most important thing. And that's the same in ABB is it in as it has been in every company I've ever worked in, but you do try, you do have to try and put the most focus onto the things that make the biggest impact and move the needle the most for the company.

Mike: I definitely agree. And I think the other challenge or opportunity that people are Marcing have had is the explosion of different channels and the number of new channels we've got compared to when I started Marketing 30 years ago. How do you see this kind of proliferation of channels? Are there particular channels you think work better? Or does it depend upon what you're trying to achieve?

Marc: The analogy I always think of is when I was a journalist, you go and you cover a story. And you'd have to produce two to 1000 words on that story. And you take a photographer with you and get a couple of pictures. A journalist in that position nowadays, they'd have to go and do a story. One for the publication one for the website. They'd have to write a speech, script, sorry. And they'd have to record a video. So their journalist, their presenter, their script writer, the probably writing a number of social media posts as well to go across the different social channels. So somebody who was when I was never a great journalist, I wasn't a bad writer. But I didn't work for the New York Times, right? I work for car magazines. But that's not enough anymore. You've got to be the sort of Swiss Army knife of a person that can do all of these different things. And I kind of think, in a less frenetic way, it's the same for storytellers within a business.

Can you get a coherent film out of this? Note, there's too much there's too much information to go in here. You've got the product detail, you got the product benefits, you've got the specific customer base, you want to talk, right. Okay. It's not a film, it's a podcast, if you need to bring in the industry perspective point of view data points, right? Well, that's not a podcast, because you can't have five or 10 different speakers, that's a white paper. So you have all these levers at your disposal, and it quickly becomes apparent I think, when you try and look at it from a storytelling point of view, as in what is the hook here? What is the story? The five wh right, who, what, where, why, when how I live my life by my professional life by that I learned that when I was 16, Badenoch and strathspey Harold in Scotland, when I was working there two days a week. And I always think like that, so, you know, you take those five boxes, which avenue is the best one to pursue here and we've got all those different levers is case by case really, white papers are great because you get the detail you get the industry perspective. surveys, we do a lot of surveys. And I think a lot of the time people go, Oh, another survey. But actually, as I said before, a lot of the stuff that we do at ABB robotics is the first time it's been done. When we did our construction piece last year, no one else was talking about that. There was no there was no industry noise, there was no data to go. And we had to go and get the data. And we spoke to like 1000 construction companies around the world, and they got their got their opinion. And lo and behold, they backed up our story and adds that weight and that heft to it. So surveys, white papers, podcasts, films, obviously, images, infographics are useful when you're talking about something with a lot of different data points. And you can have different versions of those, obviously, you can have the sort of consumer style ones, you can have the ones that you want to put to the customer. So I find it really exciting. Again, it's exciting for me, we've got this thing, right, how do we approach this and then you got to go away and figure out what the best way of doing it is. And oftentimes, it's multiple, you have a film you have an infographic may have a survey, whatever. But there's lots of levers to pull.

Mike: That sounds great. I mean, the range of opportunity, I think the way you're picking those different channels and use the ones that work best. I think that's a great approach. I love that.

Marc: I mean, obviously, like, you know, social media is kind of goes without saying, doesn't it, but you have to pick the channel within that spectrum that works for you best as well. We have a lot of jobs on LinkedIn, understandably, given that we're sort of large engineering, industrial company with that comes the necessity to build things a certain way. But we're lucky we've got some really interesting people at the top of the business Samiha to Mike's agora Adric, asone, people like that, who have lots of engaged people following them. And if you know, we can give them the content to post and link to then works really well, because you've got this engaged audience, they've got a lot of reach, and we've got the good content to perfect circle.

Mike: That's great. I'm interested, we used to obviously be used to be a journalist, and presumably, when you moved into the auto industry, you were actually working with journalists, you knew, now you've moved to a new industry, presumably or work with journalists, you don't know. I mean, how do you see journalists? Are they friends and supporters? Or do you see the relationship between the companies you work for so Marketing people and journalists has been a bit more adversarial?

Marc: I guess like any microcosm of society, you've got different types of people, right. So some journalists are very easygoing, and want to get along, and others are quite adversarial. I think a lot of the time, they just want information, and they just want someone to be responsive. But that's key. The pressures on these guys are huge, right? And it's always time pressured. The worst thing you can do is say, right, I'll get back I'll you know, I'll be in touch and then not get in touch. This is terrible, right? There's a basic level of professionalism that I think a lot of PR people struggle with comms people struggle with. And they don't understand that this story is getting written either way. Right? It's happening. So you either pony up and come with your side of the story, or, you know what, it's gonna happen anyway. So I wouldn't I don't think it's adversarial. It's just like a mutual respect thing. Make sure that you are responsive, and you're servicing these people correctly. It's obviously beholden upon you to make sure that your story is being told in the right way. With the right focus should go without saying I guess. But I think the guys that I've come in contact with since moving to ABB, they're very, very knowledgeable. They understand. Quite often these guys will be industrial reporter or you know what, as a huge, that's a huge beat, right? That's a massive beat. That could be anything from an Amazon distribution centre to BMWs factory in Munich, or whatever. And they know a huge amount of the detail. They're familiar with the big, robotic players and the automation players. Yeah, I don't know. Are they adversarial? Are they nice? They're just people, right? Some of them are good guys. Some of them are harder, harder work. But I think the thing that unites them all is that if you deal with people on a professional level, and you give them what they need, and what they're asking for, then that's a good start, you know?

Mike: Perfect makes a lot of sense. You've obviously run a lot of campaigns or quite a wide variety of campaigns. Are there any campaigns that you know, you're particularly proud of what you feel did particularly well that you've run?

Marc: Well, as luck would have it. We just did a campaign around our new pixel paint technology, which is like an inkjet printer head for painting. Cardboard is with like a secondary colour or some form of personalization. And I said to my boss, when it started to become apparent, this was going to be absolutely huge. The biggest thing that we've ever done by a long way, the most successful thing we've ever done by a long way, bridging the gap but When Trade Tech publications in sort of the mainstream, so BBC, the time, Sunday Times, huge amount of coverage, I've never been more proud of anything really professionally, because it was taking this technological story with great benefits to the potential customers and all that kind of stuff. But actually just saying to people, this is what happens when you bring together cutting edge robotic automation and the humanity that only people can bring to something.

So we had two artists, a little chap called advisor Kolkata, who's the sort of child prodigy abstract painter from from India. And this digital design collective from Dubai called L. You saw, I needed to like Metaverse design, the robot, the basically the premise was the robot could bring that art to life on on the car. And it did both the kids art and digital design collide. And it was just so visual. So striking such a great story. And you kind of hope that these things do well. But when we actually put it out there, and we had all the sales or the stuff or the sales, guys, the social media is going to be part of a podcast, we did infographics, it was just this holistic thing. And it grew arms and legs. It was great.

But the interesting thing was, it was where humanity and technology were that Venn diagram a little bit in the middle. That's That's what people are interested in. And that really struck home to me the power of that kind of storytelling. Like I said, I've never been more proud of anything I've done professionally. And I'm glad at work, because it's a great idea. And it's a great story. And the technology is superb, you know, and again, looking 1015 years down the line with that. There's nothing you can't have on the car. And it's not a graphic that's gonna fade and peel off after five years, it's permanent, the quality is as good as the paint on the car. So the possibilities are endless, really, when that gets fine tuned, and people start figuring out how to build it into the production line. So you could generally ever be in a position where no two cars are ever the same ever again.

Mike: Yeah, I particularly like the way you say that was the intersection between humanity and technology. I think particularly the young Indian artist, I'm gonna saw this campaign. I think a lot of people did. You could see he just thought it was so cool that his picture was going to be on a car. And I think that's what for me really made the campaign was the fact that you've obviously got somebody involved who actually genuinely was really proud and really excited to be involved in what is basically a Marketing campaign. And to me that came through so strongly in the campaign. I thought that was really exciting.

Marc: Yeah, he was just he was just, I mean, you know, he's eight, right? I've got an eight year old, like, I can't get him to brush his teeth twice a day, let alone produce works of art that sell for hundreds of 1000s of dollars. But he was just really chuffed that it was the first time I'd ever been done. And it was his work that was going on to you know, an LED. So I came at it from a slightly different perspective because it was all about the metaverse and the digital crossover between their their design and putting into robot studio, and then having that transport into the car. So there's not no human touch at all. Other than the design it is transferred to robot studio. And Robo studio communicates with a robot and it's laid down on the car and they were just knocked out by that because everything they do is virtual in the metaverse, etc. To have it physically represented was was cool for them solving that. And plus, it's just cool working with cool people right like interesting people. How do you how often you get to work with a child prodigy? That's like fender or Steinway working with Mozart or something that it's incredible. So it was really cool. And there was a lot of people working on it behind the scenes and a few bumps in the road. And obviously, we had COVID at the time, and that makes everything harder. So yeah, that really chuffed and again, that is what gets me out of bed in the morning. The ideas, the thought that goes, okay, yes, this technology is cool. Tick, right tick. The trade media will write about this, the car media will write about this. How do we take it? How do we give this the audience it deserves? You know, that's the thought process that goes into it. So this one Yeah, I find that so interesting.

Mike: This has been awesome. It's been it's been a great conversation. I mean, I'm sure people will have questions and things they'd like to ask you. Is there a way that anyone can get in contact if they want to ask about anything that you've talked about? Or maybe even just want a job? Changing the world with robots?

Marc: Yeah, yeah, LinkedIn, obviously all my details are on there. So if anybody wants to drop us a line, be delighted to hear from you always looking for good ideas and good people to be in touch with so absolutely. There's only one Marc mustard. I think it's It wasn't much fun at school having a name to tell you but it's coming to its own latterly. So MARC and then mustard as in what you have your roast beef and you'll find me.

Mike: Awesome. Thank you so much for being on the podcast Marc. It's been great conversation.

Marc: Thanks, Mike. Nice to talk to you.

Mike: Thank you Thanks so much for listening to Marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

A Napier Podcast Interview with Shannon Martin - Podbean

In this podcast episode, we interview Shannon Martin, Director of Communications at Podbean, a podcast publishing solution.

Shannon shares what B2B businesses need to consider when starting a podcast, the vital role that podcast hosting platforms play in distributing across different platforms, and how to understand the download metrics of a podcast episode.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Shannon Martin – Podbean

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Shannon Martin

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 Shannon Martin Shannon is the director of communications for pod bean. Welcome to the podcast, Shannon.

Shannon: Thank you glad to be here today.

Mike: It's great to have you on. And it's really interesting to have someone who actually works for a company that helps make podcasts easier to do. And actually, one of the things I can tell people listening to podcast, is the reason you're able to download it is because we're actually a pod bean customer. So I'm a huge fan of the product. Thank you. That's great. I mean, to start off with, though, why don't you give us a little bit of background about your career and how you ended up helping people do podcasts?

Shannon: Yeah, I actually come from a sort of a marketing and communications background, and did that I had a totally different sort of specialty, originally, as many people's careers take these winding paths, but I was a huge podcast fan. So I sort of came across this opportunity at pod Bean, and not really looking to necessarily get into podcasting. But I really loved podcasts as a fan. So it was kind of a perfect way to take the skills but also put it to use in an industry that I, I had been listening to podcasts since pretty much the start of podcasting. So it was really exciting for me.

Mike: That's awesome. I think a lot of people listening, obviously, like listening to podcasts, but maybe thinking about launching their own and haven't ever recorded or published a podcast. So I mean, do you want to explain how do people create and publish a podcast? How complicated is it?

Shannon: It can be relatively simple. And I think, you know, obviously, the things that you need to do, or I mean, first of all, know why you're doing it and what you're going to be talking about and what kind of format you're going to have, there's a lot of that kind of planning. But as far as the actual recording and getting it out there, you have to record somehow. And there are lots of tools for that everything from the pod bean app has a recorder on it, that's a free tool to a lot of podcast specialists recording tools, you know, to people repurpose other other things. So you have to obviously get an audio recording or an audio and video. And then in order to get it out all those places that we might listen to a podcast, you need a podcast host, which is what pod mean is, there's also ways that you can do that on your own if you're good with programming and a lot of things like that. But, but I would say 99% of podcasts out there choose to use a podcast hosting company to do that. And it provides a feed, which then goes out to all of those places, because we all listen to podcasts, different places.

So pod bean actually is also a listening destination, we have an app, but we make sure that the podcast gets distributed out to Spotify and Apple podcasts and any of those apps where people might listen. So you kind of basically have to record know why why you're recording what you plan to do, get it set up on a podcast hosting company and get it distributed out and then determine what your ongoing plan is with a series or a schedule from there. And obviously, depending on the type of podcast, there may be tasks, like booking guests or coordinating other things, but you know, it's some are scripted, so then they have to write a script. So it just kind of varies on the type of podcast.

Mike:  That's really interesting. I think there's a lot of really good information there about planning the podcast. And probably that's something for another show. In terms of the technology. You also talked a lot about different things there. And you explain that pod bean is a podcast host. I mean, I think most people be familiar with the recording tools need to record the podcast. But am I right? You can't actually just upload a podcast to Apple podcasts. And it's magically there. Is that correct?

Shannon: Yes, you don't upload directly to the places where people listen. So you need a host or, again, there's ways you can do it kind of through your own website and through different tools. But then you really have to know programming and bandwidth and a lot of different factors. So companies like pod Bean, and some of our friendly competitors. You know, that's kind of what our goal is. And then a lot of us that do podcast hosting, there's a lot of ancillary tools that go along with that to do everything from potentially recording that might be built in to getting a little more sophisticated with what's out there for the podcasting, automate some automated marketing monetization. So a lot of us do more than just have that hosting component. But that's really something that people before they get into podcasting don't understand. They think that they do upload directly to those directories. And thank goodness you don't because there are a lot of those. So just uploading to one place. There's a little setup up front, but the nice thing is you then just upload upon being and The feed gets it out. So you're not having to go and determine do I want to be on Apple or Spotify or this one or that put that work in every time I do an episode.

Mike: So that's really important. So what you're doing is a podcast host, as well as storing the podcast file that people download. You're actually telling all these different places people go to listen that there's a new episode, is that really the role of what you're doing?

Shannon: Yeah, so it uses the RSS feed kind of technology that blogging was built on. So it's kind of a broadcasting type of thing. And then those directories pull from that the new episodes, and then magically, the person that uses Apple podcasts and subscribe to your podcast gets those new episodes and gets a notification. And it makes it really easy to have one place that you go to do the back end. And then on the front end, the listeners get the podcast episodes.

Mike:   So those platforms obviously very important. I mean, you need to be listed on all the big ones, Spotify and Apple. And so how complicated is that? Are you going to have to manually connect pod bean to each of those platforms? Or is that sort of handled for you in the popping app?

Shannon: Yeah, it there is some initial setup, and we've tried to make it as easy as possible. While there is, you know, sort of like, for example, with Apple, there's an approval process, it's that you, so you do have to set up an account there and all that. So it takes a little bit up front. But we also have a lot of directories that we have a direct. They have API's, for example, so we have a direct connection with so in our back end, as a podcaster, you have your account, and there's a distribution section. And under that it covers all the major directories. And it says, here's the one step or the two steps that you need to do. And then we also have a more extensive article that goes into every possible thing that's out there. But all the major ones are covered directly in the pod bean tools. So yeah, it takes I would say, if you want to get a podcast out there, and you have in mind, you want it to be out there this weekend, you need to think about it a little further in advance, because you can't control you know, for example, how long Apple takes to approve it. But the work that will go into it will be fairly, fairly minimal and fairly quick to get it set up.

Mike: That's awesome. And then presumably, people are trying to get on as many platforms as possible to get as big an audience. But do you still see things like Apple podcasts being the biggest platform? Or Are things getting a bit more equal?

Shannon: Now, Apple and Spotify sort of vie for that at the moment, and it depends a lot to on the geography of the listeners, because certain countries are more apple centric and certain are more Android centric. So you'll see some variety in there. So yeah, there's definitely we hit in that account, we hit in the major directories that we definitely encourage you to be a part of. And then the reality is that a lot of smaller apps pull from Apple podcast directory. So once you're in Apple, for example, you get into some of these smaller podcast apps and that kind of thing. And then if a listener asks, Hey, I use a certain app, and I don't see you there, then that's also you can go in and quickly check what their process is.

Mike: Awesome. That makes it sound so much easier. I know when we set up, it was remarkably easy to get listed on a whole range of different platforms. So that was great. To me, though, one of the interesting things I'm seeing in podcasting is the emergence of people trying to do live streaming. So their live stream or podcast and then make it available on the platforms is that something you're seeing is becoming more important?

Shannon: Yeah, we actually started an integrated live streaming tool within the podbean app back in the autumn of 2019. So which was interesting, because then in early 2020, sort of pandemic driven, I guess, or you know, that that became, there were a lot of new players, everybody wanted to get into live streaming and stuff. So I guess we were thinking in the right direction. So we do see a lot of that, I think, especially we see people doing podcasts that have other ideas of what they might want to do something a little different, or an every now and then live stream to connect with their audience. But then also new people getting into podcasting that get in through the live streaming, and realise they can repurpose it as an on demand podcasts. So it plays different roles in different podcasts situations. But it's definitely becoming more popular, I would say.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, I've seen a similar thing with people who start live streaming on LinkedIn, and then realise that actually, that's great content for a podcast. So that kind of reflects your, your view that livestream isn't necessarily the second step for a podcast actually, it could be the intro in that's, that's fascinating.

Shannon: Yeah, it goes it goes both ways. Definitely. We see it so I think it's it's nice if someone's doing an existing podcast, and they're thinking about different audience engagement options, then that's one way to go. And then yeah, a lot of people do a live stream and realise, wait a minute, I have this record. What can I do with this recording? What are other ways I can get it out there? It's perfect for a podcast.

Mike: Awesome. I mean, I guess the other trend is where Oh we're seeing is video podcasts were currently audio only should we be moving to video?

Shannon: It really depends I we do see a lot more video podcasting. I think it what's interesting is pod bean has had video, the ability to watch video podcasts in our app since the start, and have has supported video and hosting in the hosting plans as well, since since the beginning, but those were people listening primarily on podcast apps, it's really evolved more to be related to YouTube. So our podcasters have the option to get sort of a static video they can use for YouTube. But those obviously aren't as YouTube doesn't like those as much they weren't true video. So some people are moving on to recording the video and using that, and a lot of them the focus is YouTube, but then they can get it out other places too. So yeah, it's supposedly YouTube is perhaps now the most popular place for people to, quote unquote, listen to podcasts or consume podcasts. So it's definitely changing. But it really depends. You know, I personally, as a listener, listen, while I'm not in a position to watch videos a lot. So there's still a certain magic to that audio on demand format that we can consume hours while we're out being healthy taking a walk or something like that. That's what a lot of people think of as a podcast. So it's, it really kind of depends on your situation and your podcast and your goals.

Mike: So it really is a matter of finding out what your listeners one, I think from what you're saying,

Shannon: yeah, it probably wouldn't hurt and could give you more exposure to have both of those options out there for different people. But also, what is the benefit of the video, I think about that, and the bandwidth. And I don't, I mean, actual bandwidth. But I also mean your personal bandwidth, and the comfort of guests. And you know what it takes to that mean? Video obviously takes more bandwidth to both record and get good quality. It's tougher to edit. I certainly and it requires more bandwidth when it's getting played as well. So those are the potential challenges of it.

Mike: Right. So if you're trying to understand your audience, I guess one of the things people really care about is reporting knowing when the podcast is doing well. I mean, what stats the podcasters wants to know about their podcasts and where do they get them from?

Shannon: Yeah, so you get them from your podcast hosting company. So that's another thing that we do and a big part of the role. And the statistics in podcasting. I won't get into the weeds too much on this, but they're essentially called downloads. Now, this becomes highly confusing, because people will say often and I read constant discussions and Facebook groups with a lot of misinformation. And they'll say, but everyone tells me they stream they listen, they don't download it to their phone. So am I Where are they? I'm missing those How do I know those numbers, but in the podcast terminology, and the standards are set by a an organisation called the IAB, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, we actually are progressively or someone when they're listening is progressively downloading if they're streaming. So there's a standard standard set for an over a minutes worth of content. And it's kind of a complicated formula. But they're all called downloads. So when you see I, you know, my podcast episode, this week got 100 downloads, that can mean the person who actually downloaded it, or was streaming it and counts as this according to this metric. And then within that, we're able to also share things like the geographies where those listeners are coming from what sources so are they listening on Apple podcasts, Spotify, and all of that. And then at pod bean, we also have a specialised statistic or analytics for our business customers, and a lot of them are actually doing internal podcasting. But that actually shows in depth statistics of how the listening pattern was. And so in an episode, what people are skipping and all of that on all of the pod bean based tools, we can't tell that we don't get that information back from Apple, for example, but they are doing something similar. And I think Spotify also does. So all together, you could get a really good snapshot of that if you want. And in that particular case, too, we potentially have the ability to give individual listener data, again, with our internal podcast, these companies usually have that permission. Obviously, with data privacy, we can't give that kind of stuff for the general listener. But there's some kind of unique opportunities with statistics coming up. But yeah, the kind of who, how many are listening to popularity, and then some of that other source kind of data is what is provided and what people are looking for.

Mike: That makes sense. But obviously, one of the things you're saying is that a download is not necessarily a listen, is that right?

Shannon: Yeah, if someone listens, it will count as a download. So if they're streaming it will count as a download. But if someone actually downloads and I listened for example, Have an aeroplane later. You don't know, did I listen on the aeroplane or didn't tie it other than if we, we can find that out because we actually have a listening app or if I listen on your site, your pod bean site, we can get more of that kind of information. But generally because of the sort of democratic nature of podcasting, where there's all these different ways people listen, then some of that kind of what happens from there, we don't have and no one, no podcast host would have that information. So it's fortunately it's fairly standardised across the industry. So if you're using different podcast hosts, if they follow those standards, you'll get the same kind of information.

Mike: So everybody's equal, it's not quite perfect, but everybody's on a level playing field.

Shannon: Yeah. And right now, that's a little difficult. You know, sometimes people say, I want to know who my listeners are some of the demographic kind of stuff, there are some things developing that may be able to, you know, if you think of Nielsen and things with TV, that kind of stuff potentially, might move forward with that. But otherwise, right now, because there's a platform, and there's the server side that we see versus where people listen, those are things that aren't aren't necessarily available that way.

Mike: Perfect. Makes sense. So you mentioned something a little bit earlier, and I'd like to get back to it. You talked about internal podcasts for businesses, can you explain a little bit more about the difference between a public podcast and then something that's internal to a particular business?

Shannon: Yeah, it's one of the specialties at pod bean. And because it's internal, no one really knows about it very often, we've done case studies with a lot of the companies that are doing it, because we can't share the actual podcasts, obviously. So companies often use this for their employees, and also membership organisations and that kind of thing. So it can be the same very much as a podcast you would listen to publicly, but the purpose and how it's distributed is a bit different. So we see a lot of them being used for training, and leadership development, learning and development and corporations, messages from CEO and leadership, employee stories, these kind of all data, these kind of things. And basically, it's produced and created, and you use the pod bean platform. And then we secure it so that only the permitted users, whether it's members or employees can get it. And that's either password kind of situation, or a connected to the company's own sign in. So a lot of our companies actually do it that way. And that way, it's their own security. And it's also no extra, you know, accountant to make, since we all have 1000s of accounts nowadays. And we have a special app for that called the pro app, which is actually what a lot of companies use. And we can also develop special apps for them. But that's how the employees can access it, and have a nice podcast user experience, but not have to be concerned that it gets to competitors and things like that.

Mike: Presumably as well, they can add their own branding and make that that special out there own.

Shannon: Yeah, so we can create white label apps, which are completely separate from the pod bean names that we have several companies that have those, we have one company, it's the company name, and then on air, that's the name of their app. And the pro app is what I call a semi white label app. So when a person goes in, it's obviously it's called pod bean Pro. So that's how they download it from the store. But it's already available. We do all the development. But then as soon as they log in, it goes to a company page. So it has the logo and and everything. So it's pretty much pod bean name of front pod bean, you know, handles the load the app, but it's, you know, kind of a white label experience once they enter. So yeah, it's really a booming i We just were at a conference about a week ago, talking with a learning and development professionals and something that was very popular, they're all really considering how it can be used.

Mike: Okay, so it's a fascinating trend. And it's got to be something that's going to grow and grow because everybody's got their mobile device. It's a great way to reach people. Looking back at sort of the more standard podcasting, I mean, do you see b2b growing in terms of public podcasting, trying to reach customers and prospects?

Shannon: Tremendously? Tremendously? Yes, I think our for example, our internal podcasting business, we see it growing, but we've found that that side of our business is even more the public, the branded style podcast, the thought leadership, you know, we really see companies starting to and it's getting to that sort of tipping point starting to realise it's something that they need, like they used to realise, you know, they knew they needed a website, obviously than a blog, social media. Now there's okay, we definitely need a podcast and how can we use it best? And so yeah, and we have a lot of companies have multiple podcasts now for different different sorts of needs. So I think it's it's good I really believe in my our CEO has said this a few times that we do think at one point companies will assume that it's something they need just like a blog.

Mike: And in terms of the b2b space is that different from b2c in terms of attracting listeners and growing the audience?

Shannon: Definitely, I think even the largest companies, or the most beautifully produced interesting story branded story kind of podcasts are going to tend to have a smaller. Of course, this is very much a generalisation because even individual podcasts, some have to listeners, so, but generally, you're not going to find that you're going to turn into a Joe Rogan or a serial, you know, millions of downloads, because it's more niche. And it really has a sort of a different purpose, the purpose is not to get millions of listeners necessarily. So it's really to there's many different purposes that can be behind it. And that's the most important thing to think about when starting for b2b Did the podcast.

Mike: I mean, obviously, you really care about a certain sort of listener, in b2b, it's very specific. If you're in marketing, for example, motor drives, you care about people who are going to buy motor drives, and not about people who have no interest. So it's not it's not just vanity metrics, and

Shannon: very much yeah, the overall number of listeners is not nearly as important to that I actually, I think I heard this on a podcast originally, and then talk to this person, it was actually a production company that helps people with podcasts. And they had a company that did podcasts. And their success metric was actually achieved before they even put the podcast out into the public. And I thought this was fascinating. I said, Okay, tell me more about this. They said, because they interviewed thought leaders in their industry. And from that they got multiple million dollar sales that they couldn't have done otherwise, because they asked these people to be on their podcasts, and the people had a conversation with them. And some of them they couldn't access before, through other sort of channels. And that wasn't they weren't sort of doing that in a shady way. They were really intending to put out a podcast, but it ended up having this goal. You know, it was amazing that it achieved more than they ever thought by doing that. So obviously, that that is one potential benefit is just the guest interactions that you might have. And then obviously reaching out that niche customer, sometimes providing really sort of educational, thought leadership kind of information where they see you in that way. And also the intimacy of podcasting itself, the voice really can be come across in a way that other forms of marketing don't.

Mike: Makes a lot of sense. What's the best way to promote podcast to get more of the listeners you want? How could we, for example, grow our audience with a Napier podcast?

Shannon: I think that especially talking about b2b podcasts, it's important to know who is that audience potentially, who are you targeting, Who's your ideal listener. And to think of that, and that's kind of echoes from the very beginning of starting a podcast, because even at what kind of format you choose, and how long you make it, and a lot of those things, you might really base that on that sort of Persona and their life and their work situation. And then thinking about where to best market to those people. So a lot of b2b podcasts really, as far as social media, for example, need to focus more on LinkedIn, than Twitter or Instagram. So you may have all the social media for your podcast, but the ones that I know of the b2b podcast tend to focus on those on promoting it on LinkedIn, and particularly, maybe in groups that relate to the industry, making those kinds of connections, sort of CO marketing with guests that are big names in an industry, you know, can make a huge difference. And even sometimes some traditional PR is for any Podcasts can be really helpful. And sometimes it's overlooked. Because social media kind of you know, everything gets there's a lot of it, it gets kind of lost PR can still be very valuable, having an article written about what you're doing with the podcast. And so I think in industry related podcasts, that can be really true because someone reads the magazine or the website of an association. And that's where they go to for the information. And oh, this podcast is related to that topic. And it's a more of a fit than just trying to blast everything out there to the general public. So I think those kinds of things are really key. And, again, guest co promoting can be very useful. And similarly, one of the things we see with podcasts in general, and it can work for b2b is even just more direct kind of CO promoting on other podcasts. So if there are other related in your industry things and it may seem like oh, wait a minute, a competitor, but a lot of times, if you're in a specific industry, there's probably very little out there. If there's two podcasts, that's amazing. You may have to find something, it's more ancillary even but then talking to them about whether you can do some shared promotion kind of thing because if I'm really into technology, a specific kind of Technology and there's one podcast out there, I have space to listen to another one probably. So it's not going to your competition isn't going to take your listener away most likely.

Mike: That makes a lot of sense. So a bit of friendly cooperation, even with people who may be somewhat in competition is a good move.

Shannon: Definitely. And I think that another aspect that sometimes it depends, again on the podcast, and your and your listener, but there is there are also opportunities in in listening apps to promote. And so if you're looking at different if you're actually looking at advertising, and spending some money on promotion, and marketing, that's something to check. Because when people are in an app listening, it can if generally, for podcasts, it's a really good place to promote, because they're already ripe for adding another podcast to their subscribe lists. So there are some targeted ways you can do that within apps that might fit more to get your kind of b2b listener. But that's another thing to consider.

Mike: Perfect. I've got to ask this, are there any mistakes people make any things you should, you should avoid that perhaps if you're new to podcasting, or particularly in the b2b sector, things that you can do wrong, that aren't going to help your podcast?

Shannon: I think the first thing is to hear but thinking about it at the start, and because I'm saying, oh, a lot of people, now they're realising Oh, we just need to have a podcast. But the mistake with that can be thinking, we just need to have a podcast because it's cool. And we don't really think about the purpose, and the goals. And therefore, we are hoping to achieve something that that is unrealistic. So maybe the someone in the company, Oh, I see our competitors have podcasts. Let's get one. Let's do one. And I see that some podcasts have millions of downloads. So that's what we need to achieve. That's your KPI achieve that. And that doesn't, that's not a good idea. For a b2b podcast. Generally, those big numbers aren't necessarily your metric for success. So I think that's very important in setting things up. And knowing what your goal is, and setting everything up around that. And then I think the other thing is just taking years to do it, because you think you have to buy the most expensive equipment and spend a lot of money and that it's complicated. And, of course, in some companies, larger companies, that's also because the processes take a long time. So some of that you can't help. But if there's if there are ways to simplify it, and to get the product to market, I would say that's the way to go. Because otherwise, you'll find yourself years from now of saying we had a great idea, but it never came to fruition.

Mike: It makes a lot of sense. That's, that's great. I mean, I really appreciate everything you've shared here from the technology through to advice in terms of granulars it's been amazing conversation, is there anything else we should have covered or anything you think people should know about podcasting?

I think it's a follow on to what I just mentioned that it can be relatively easy and inexpensive to start. And there's a lot of great equipment, and great tools and things you can add on. But I'd say for most starting relatively simple, is very, very feasible with podcasting more than a lot of other mediums. So that's you can get started and get going. And if you know what your intention is behind it, then that you can have a really good quality podcast by putting out good content. And then you can always improve things and upgrade and and move up from there. But if you bring people something that's helpful or interesting to them, then you can succeed with it even without spending a lot of money or time.

Mike: That's awesome. That's great advice. If people are interested, if they want to learn more, is there a way they can contact you to find out more about podcasting or about popping in particular?

Shannon: Definitely podbean.com We have lots of ways to contact if there and I am actually I'm on LinkedIn a lot. So if people use LinkedIn, I'm Shannon Martin writes, writes like writer, Shannon Martin writes, and or just look up Shannon Martin podbean. And I'm very open to talking to people having conversations, and we have a lot of we have a million different ways that you can get pod bean information. But rather than listing all those, I'll just say the website, of course, we have all the social media, and for b2b in particular, we are we have a pretty good presence on LinkedIn. And we even have a group that's specific to corporate podcasting, both for the external and the internal purposes. And that's for people to be able to share their own experiences. So I'm glad to connect you up with that group. If you're interested.

Mike: That's amazing. I'll definitely be joining the group. I really appreciate all your time. And all your knowledge has been great. Thanks so much for being on the show.

Shannon: Thank you 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 Jeff Coyle - MarketMuse

In this podcast episode, we interview Jeff Coyle, Co-Founder and Chief Strategy Officer at MarketMuse, an AI-powered platform which removes manual intervention by identifying content quality issues and accelerating the research, creation and optimisation process.

Jeff explains what it means to publish fearlessly and how MarketMuse brings content confidence and the assurance that it will have a predictable and meaningful impact on the business.

He also shares the two most common editorial mistakes he sees with content marketing, and how MarketMuse’s insight is data-driven to support all teams within the creative, content writing and marketing departments.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Jeff Coyle – MarketMuse

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Jeff Coyle

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 Jeff Coyle. Jeff is the co-founder and chief strategy officer of a company called MarketMuse. Welcome to the podcast. Jeff.

Jeff: Thanks for having me. I look forward to the discussion today.

Mike: It's great to have you on now. I mean, just to start off, you're now working at MarketMuse, a marketing technology company, but you've got a really interesting career history. So tell us how you ended up CO founding MarketMuse?

Jeff: Yeah, sure. So the short version is gonna be a seven hour version or a one minute version. So I went to Georgia Tech in Atlanta for computer science usability theory was a focus and information retrieval search engine design, I started working for a company while I was still in school, while still in college as an intern called Knowledge storm, and what knowledge storm was like one of the first companies selling leads to b2b technology company.

So we're trying to convince companies like IBM, and Dow and Oracle to have content and get it out there so that it could generate leads. I know, this seems like so wild that we were, you know, convincing people to list information about their products, their b2b tech products, all the modules or their products and their white papers and their ebooks and such. So what I did there, as I made sure we had tonnes of traffic going through the site, I got into kind of the search engine optimization world very early on in the 99 2000 range.

So now I've been doing it about 23 years, we were generating millions and millions of leads per month for business technology companies. And I also did product management, I helped design, the lead management platform, the lead nurturing solution, the ad server, all kinds of stuff like that. So I love all anything that relates to taxonomies ad serving search engines, and internet search, Enterprise Search, whatever it may be, I love it. So then, like we got acquired in 2007, by tech target, who if you're in b2b Tech, you're probably familiar with them. They're one of the largest publishers in certainly in the United States, but they also own computer weekly, and a number of properties throughout the world, in Europe and in Asia, I worked as their traffic search and engagement vice president. So basically, I was making sure all of their properties got traffic, and we were turning it into whatever it was, you know, readership, membership leads, data. On the cool thing about this story and why it matters to MarketMuse is, it was my first experience working with a large content team. So they had 300, editors, you know, award winning amazing editors and experts. And they also had writers kind of 1000 content contributors from throughout, you know, whether they were outsourced or whether they were like friends and family kind of stuff. And so I had gotten used to optimising sites and planning what content to put on pages, you know, without editorial oversight, and seeing how smart and intelligent those folks were. But they weren't necessarily using data to drive those decisions. It was all because they were subject matter experts. And they knew editorial and editorial processes. So bringing data to those folks was, you know, initially hard, right? It was like us, here's us some data's like, now I don't know if I want to use data. This seems like it's all art. And then over time, merging together the art of being an expert. And the knowledge one has an editorial excellence, and search engine optimization, trend information, but also topic information became something that allowed us to build out processes. Now, the punchline there is they were all manual. Like, you know, we were talking about right before the show very manual processes for research for gap analysis for editorial research. And still today, writers and editors. And journalists do a lot of their research manually.

I found at the tail end of my time at techtarget. I found my co founder, he had taken one research process which we referenced as topic modelling. It's a branch of artificial intelligence that looks to say, if I were an expert, and I were covering this topic comprehensively, what are the things that I would naturally include? And let's turn that into a graph or a knowledge graph or some sort of, you know, information architecture to say, this is what it means to be about that. Right. And he had taken a 30 hour manual resource search process down to about four minutes, and I went, oh, boy, right. And it was the outcome was better than what I would be able to do. And I was frankly, doing it better than anyone in you know, 2007 to 2011 1213, whatever. And so when I left tech target to go work at a private equity firm, he reached out to me and said, Hey, Jeff If you really understand these processes and how you would turn a bill into a law, effectively, how do you turn this topic model into a thing that can analyse a page into something that can analyse a collection of pages, or kind of the gold coin, which is analysed my entire site tells me where I have strengths and weaknesses tell me where I have gaps and opportunities from the lens of quality, because quality, comprehensiveness, and authority. That's the unifying metric for anyone on any team. So if I'm an editor, or lead from a GM, if I'm a writer, if I'm a search engine optimization professional, you can't not want the highest quality content, you can't not want momentum and authority so that you can write stuff and it can be successful. So it became this unifying metric that allowed us to build technology that crossed the chasm and broke silos at b2b organisations than we realise that publishers and agencies and E commerce all had the same challenges in that they, you know, they don't know what to write, they don't know what to update, because they might kind of know, but they can't back it up with data, so they can't get enough budget. So they do kind of get half as much budget as they need to write about a, they might spend too much money writing about B, they can't predict the outcomes. And so they're just grossly inefficient. And so what we did was we turned all of those problems that every single person that cares about content has into easy to understand workflows that allow your content team to be predictable, and that's critical. So we can basically say, hey, person, you run a ball bearing company for railroads in Eastern Europe, okay, cool. Here's the way that you can own, you know, railroad safety in your market, you have to write 140 articles on there about these topics, and you have to update these 15. And if you do that, in this timeframe, we predict that you're gonna have these types of outcomes. And that breaks people's brains. They're just like, yeah, so that's kind of been my journey from college to, you know, working with teams to become more data driven from a content perspective.

Mike: Presumably, when you talk about quality, you talk about outcomes today, a lot of it is around SEO, and where you rank on the search results pages.

Jeff: Yep. Yeah, absolutely quality comprehensiveness. Google has always cared about content quality, I love how people are saying, Oh, they now care about content, they always have, they've always wanted to bring the best results. The first time this was exhibited in their kind of public outputs was in around 2009, through 11, when they released a algorithm update called Panda, which is made by a guy named Navneet. Panda, it just happens to be visualised as a panda bear. But it's not like it was called that because of that, but basically, that was trying to bring machine learning to assess content quality, and then they've just improved on that. But they also have to look at it from how to process queries, how to rewrite queries, how to organise data, in data structures, so their goal has always been that even from the start, they just have to, you know, figure it out along the way, as well as much as anyone else has. But now really, they've put that into overdrive, because it's because of the ability and the advancements in the technology, they're able to assess quality much more comprehensively, much more well, and they're able to update, update things more quickly.

So it gives the perception that it's a higher level of focus for them, it's just they have a better ability to actually do it. Um, so how that's manifested is, you can't trick them. Right? And that you shouldn't have ever been tricking them if you had a real company, and desired longevity. But now it's, you know, it's one of those things where the risk that it creates is too high to even think about it. Especially if you have no real business. So if you have a search engine optimization firm, or an in house person who's advising things that you know, JDL or they just don't smell, right, it's probably because it's a bad idea. And you should be thinking about quality and comprehensiveness, the funds, the fun side effect is that it's such a unifier, right, a product marketing person, and editor, editorial person, your C suite, your writers, everybody wants to be presenting the company in the best possible light. We want content out there that people are gonna go to and go yeah, this is awesome. This really represents us as thought leaders. So it has meaningful impact on virality on brand on, you know, and then just kind of team unification. So yes, sure, it leads to higher rankings. But what it also does the meaningful impact that it has to build credibility for writing content, the content marketing team believe management team and the search team is really a measurable it makes teams go from kind of siloed, ineffective, inefficient kind of lobbying for budget to all being unified around one metric and that metric is quality and authority.

Mike: That's interesting. I mean, one of the things that intrigued me is on the website, you know, you obviously talk about quality too well, authority, but you have a tagline about publishing fearlessly. What do you mean by publishing fearlessly?

Jeff: I've never been asked that question. That's a really good one. So what do I mean? Why? I'm gonna flip it around, right? Why would one fear a particular writing or content investment? Right? The reasons why one would fear that there is because it's completely unpredictable. So I always ask people, the first thing you need to do before you invest any more money in context, stop. Don't listen to me. pause the tape. Don't pause this tape. But go look in the mirror at your existing site, not bias, not a funhouse mirror. How much content do you produce? How much content have you produced? How much of it how what percentage of it is successful? Then you do the math, and you're like, oh, only like 10%? Or I don't even know, right? The average on b2b teams is typically about 10%. That's painful. So now asked the same question, how much does each content item cost? All in? Not just how much? Did the writer charge you? If you're outsourcing? What's the total only cost? Right? Do that math, you'll figure out that each page is going to be in the 1000s of dollars. And you say no, it's not Yes, trust me, if you bet, if you bank all the hours and look at it, especially if it's something that is excuse relatively high quality, it's going to end up being in that four digits or more. Well, now, think about that, if you're only producing 10% effective, it actually 10x Is your costs. Right? If I knew that, I would be in fear, right? If every article was called if every effective article cost me 20 $30,000, which isn't unusual for a b2b technology company, right? Gosh, I really have to be sure of myself, before I invest that I can lie to myself and say the content cost a couple $100. Right. But even then, I'm fearful that I'm going to get budget to do this, and then it's not going to be successful.

So will MarketMuse brings you is the content confidence to say, I know that if I write this article, if I update these articles, they're going to have a meaningful impact on my business that I can predict. And then I'm comfortable that I'm going to go back. And it's going to have that meaningful closed loop. So I can go back to the C suite, or my you know, cmo and say, Hey, I made the case to build 10 articles about this topic. We wrote them, they all done well, or 40% of them and done well. Previously, only 10% of our content did well. That's what publishing fearlessly means.

Mike: That's, that's fascinating. That level of competence and level of, I think just honesty with yourself about costs is really important.

Jeff: I’ve got an example that you can everyone who's listening to this can go look up. Alright, so I was on a podcast, I do a lot of podcasts and webinars. I was on a podcast in January, where I was actually looking at MarketMuse, the platform at the market Muse account, the one that my content strategist, my lead content strategist, Steven Chesky, who's amazing uses to decide what we write in what we update, and I was using it as an example. And I said, Well, you know, Steven wrote this great article, that's early stage awareness about content briefs, it's what is the content brief? Market Muse surfaced that it had a intent mismatch, and but it was appearing in organic search results for a content brief templates and content, brief examples. Right. But we weren't really ranking very well. If you went to the page, there were no brief. There were no templates or examples. Right? So it surfaced that, hey, if we were to go attack, content, brief templates and content, brief examples, we would have noticeable competitive advantage and authority. So I was in this I was on this podcast and recording and I said, well, I need to go Estelle tell Steven to go write those articles. He did. They'll type in content brief template into Google. Right now, I don't even know you might be listening to this seven months from now, three months from now, the page that Steven wrote, he confidently published and it overtime, barreled through the results in order to perform well.

That's the kind of experience that I want your team to have, where you can say, whew, this is going to be a big lift. I was just talking to a b2b tech company. And they were changing focus. They're changing what they focused on. They're all about this one topic. They want to be about this other topic. They even went out and bought another company to be more about this other concept. And they're like, We have no idea how much content we need to produce on site a in order to own this topic. And I'm like, Whoa, okay, you got a migration to do and you're not sure. That's going to be you know, a big effort. And we can quantify that And we showed them there the data and it said, you know, yeah, you're gonna have to build a collection of content. That's pretty significant. Are you guys comfortable with that investment? There? We're like, Oh, it's a little bit more than we expected. But it's, it's real nice to have that documented, right? And I said, there is a wild card here, migrations throw a little bit of variability here. But, and that's not there's a little bit of unpredictability, and which I don't like Jeff doesn't like unpredictability. But yeah, that's the kind of thing that we like, is cases where you make a decision for the why I have a slide in one of my decks that says we're the why for content, right? Why am I writing this article versus that article? If you can't answer that you shouldn't ever write.

Mike: Makes absolute sense. So in terms of the product, you know, are you really focusing on the content strategist, Content Manager kind of persona? Or is it something that's used by writers as well?

Jeff: What a great question. Both. So it's a for the premium offering, it's definitely a team sale and a team target. So the content manager, the content strategist, the CMO, they're a decision making organisation, they decide what to create, and what to update. So for them, the value is the decision making the content inventory and auditing on demand, and being confident in, you know, giving orders and building plans, right? Because if they will build a plan that's not successful, you know, yeah, all downstream is going to hurt. Just imagine you republishing and only 10% of the articles that you wrote, were successful, right? What if you turn that into 20%, or 40%, I've got teams operating more than 50%. After working with us, which just imagine that world, the impact downstream is insane. I mean, the the value that that brings, but then we take it a step further, we know that there is content operations, dysfunction. So we allow teams to build content briefs, either with our platform, or as a managed service. They have complex brief requirements. What that does is it creates a single source of truth for writers, or, you know, editors, or search engine optimization professionals. So I say, hey, go write an article about coffee cups. A lot of times, that's what manifests as a proposal today. And so that's not enough, the person who gets that thing is good, maybe they'll have a bunch of questions, or they'll write something. And then the editor looks at it, the developmental editor, if you have a developmental editor, and they'll look at and going, Wow, this isn't what we wanted. So they mark it up with red pen, figuratively or literally, then they give it back. And then there's trust breakdowns, and then that's a disaster, right? So we always recommend, get a content briefing process that isn't just focused on SEO make it like, so that there's collaboration, information about questions to answer, make sure there's room for the writer to use their expertise. That's what you're paying them for to build a narrative. You can give them outline recommendations, title, recommendations, ways to differentiate questions answered, like I mentioned topics to include, so that they don't have any blind spots. So we provide all of that, and then allow you to customise that depending on your level of sophistication. And then we have a set of applications that are mapped to common workflows, right? So I want to examine a page and make it better, how do I make it better from a lens of quality? That's one of our applications? What is the competitive landscape look like? How can I make sure that my page is differentiated from my competitors? This page needs some internal links. Can I have some recommendations for internal links to put in this? This page needs to answer more questions? What questions should I consider? So common workflows? So that would be for the writer or for the SEO, and then the decision maker that's more for the premium solution. So a common makeup of using MarketMuse is going to have one to five people using the decision making capabilities. And the brief ordering, which is called inventory. And then maybe 1015 20 writers and SEO is using the applications.

Mike: Yeah, and I found it really interesting, because when I looked at marketing, and I mean, just so people know, you know, we went to look at marketing news, I ended up signing up and going down the rabbit hole of getting really excited about the whole product. But it seems that effectively what MarketMuse is trying to do is take all the bits that people are doing manually and not doing very well because they're doing it manually, and taking that pain away and automating it and it really seems like you've looked at where the pain points are in terms of content generation and try to automate that pain away as much as possible. Was that a deliberate approach?

Jeff:  Absolutely.

It is. That's my dream. My dream is that editors will be able to focus on the things that they're good at and not have to do the things that they shouldn't have to do or the things that they're bad at. And writers should be able to have more time writing and less time doing things they shouldn't. SEOs will have an easier time giving advice that can be heard. SEO is common pain. As they give information, and nobody can understand what they're giving them, right, because it doesn't translate into the way that editors think, or the way that writers think. Right? And I use the I always use the analogy of. So you're a chef. Oh, great. Can you farm? Right? That's one of my favourites. Right. And so a lot of times, hey, you're a writer. Oh, so you're good at SEO? Why would we expect that or you're an editorial person, that means you're really good at keyword research? No, those are learned skills, it's like saying Are you're an SEO. So that means you're good at pay per click, or you understand how ad servers work, or you understand information retrieval, right. So obviously, I've spent my entire career 23 years being able to do all of the things because I don't like the concept of a T shaped marketer, I always tell my teams, don't be a T be a square, because I want you to know everything about everything. And get there by the time you're done working here. So you can go be a CMO or VP somewhere else. But if you haven't done that, right, it's not fair to take somebody who's written for 20 years in print and digital combined and say, okay, so you're an SEO? Like, I don't think that's fair. At one point in my career, like in 2005, I thought every writer should be an SEO, I'm like, why wouldn't you want to be? Now I've realised, you know, you grow up, you realise, you get empathy. You're like, wait a second, an editorial expert who like, knows everything there is to know about, you know, hard drives? Well, how would I expect them to care about this? Right, I've got to give them this information. So yes, the dream is to take all those workflows that have any pain, any manual process, and automate the stuff that doesn't allow for expertise to shine, I want the editor to be sitting there, like I'm the most valuable person in this organisation, the subject matter expert, I understand how the stuff in my brain is going to add value for the business through content. And if I can achieve that within an organisation, then we got something I want to turn your writers into people that feel appreciated, and that they've got time to write. They want to spend time doing SEO, whatever that might be.

Mike: I think a lot of writers would love to hear that. I mean, maybe you could just perhaps, you know, delve down into a little bit more detail on, you know, when it comes to a writer trying to generate some content that's that's optimised, you know, what do you do to take that SEO pain away from the writer?

Jeff:  Absolutely. So first of all, it's that single source of truth, right? So and I'll tell you, I'll tell the story two ways. One is the actual process. And then one's the, the faulty processes, right? The actual process is to say, the person who's asking me to write this, how much trust are they putting into me as a writer, I need that to come through. So the person has a goal when they give a request to write. So it may be I want to own this topic. And maybe I want to rank for these things, I want to generate traffic, or they have no goal, okay, that's a big red flag, you need a goal with the content item. But so they're saying, I want you to go write an article that tells the story of do it yourself home ownership expertise, and explains to somebody how to get bees out of their garage? All right. That's kind of a thesis.

In order to tell that story. Here's questions that you'll need to answer. Here's topics that you definitely want to cover. Here's internal and external linking recommendations. Here's some points of reference from competition. Here's some subsections. Because this is kind of like your general guidelines. And we need it to be and it's going to probably yield over 1000 words, because that's roughly how much it would logically take. And here's some points, additional points of competitive reference. That's all I want to give the writer because I want to trust that they are going to know this or be able to get the basis their go write this, I want them to spend their time. Okay, so what's the beautiful narrative here? What imagery do we need? What production value is expected? Here? I want to make sure this has a flow a developmental flow, and communicates and answers those questions. Well, now, that's a big difference than if I just send them hey, go write an article about how to get these at a garage. That's it. Oh, right. They could put anything together. It could be two paragraphs. It can be 1000 paragraphs, it could be 10,000 words. That's a pain point. The other one would be if I just said, Hey, go write the article. And then they wrote it, and then I put it through some other sort of flow to optimise it, and SEO edit, right? Well, what if I wanted the person that's doing that marks it up in a way that negatively impacts the narrative, right, or decreases production value, or just like causes conflict? So if the writer has As that upfront, it's highly unlikely that that SEO edit has to be all that significant. And that creates a really great bond. And trust improves the trust with the writers versus the editors, makes them more likely to work together.

So the SEO edit is something that you really want to examine if you aren't doing it, especially if it's a developmental edit where you're actually, and I keep saying that, but it means like, you're actually changing the flow structure, tone voice, the actual like, frame of the pay of the article or the narrative, you're actually providing insights, you miss a section you, you didn't mention this concept. Those are things that are common in editorial operations. So then the other thing is where you might think that this type of technology will race you to the end faster. So like, I want to go from proposal to, you know, content quick, right? Yeah. Okay, as long as it checks off, all checks off all the boxes, and it's extremely high quality in the end, and everybody is confident that that works. But it's not necessarily the goal, to do anything that's going to jeopardise quality. So the process that is followed, no matter what needs to do that, what I commonly see now are races to the end, you the end yields low quality. And then the process of optimising or improving that low quality draft. Oh, it just is painful. Nobody really gets it. The end product isn't as good as it would have been if you built it incrementally. And there's a lot of chaos included. So I advise, I highly advise against that race to the end and modify. And I highly advise against not putting yourself in the situation where the SEO edit is extremely light. Those are two common editorial mistakes.

Mike: Interesting. I mean, I think one of the other things is typically in this classic approach where people are basically using judgement is very subjective. You know, you talked a little bit about using data being data driven. Can you explain how MarketMuse is data driven?

Jeff: Sure. So I like to think about as three scopes, right page level groups of pages, and then site or network level, page level data driven, we're able to analyse any topic, right? And we don't just look at like, the number one ranking page or the top five or the top 10, to say, like, what are they doing copy off of them, because that's, first of all, terrible. Nobody likes doing that. It doesn't work. In practice. Sometimes it works and allows you to spike but then you crash later, for a lot of reasons. There's five reasons that can happen. I won't get into them. But I will get into detail but one of them is don't copy your idols don't do what Amazon's doing. Don't do what the most powerful publishers in the world are doing if you're not at the most powerful publisher. Last some really sophisticated teams are, know how powerful they are. And they'll throw herrings out there for people to latch on to that some super meta stuff. So yeah, don't don't copy your idols is a core issue if you go copied Amazon S pages because Amazon S pages are outperforming you dig a hole crawl in and call me from the bunker three months from now. And by the way still happens me people with FBA sites are made for Amazon. A sites are literally going to major e commerce brands or Amazon S category page or search results and like trying to emulate those strategies, and then they three months later are wondering why their traffic crashed. Because of the Google product update. It's like Yo, you you didn't do anything that you were supposed to you thought you were because you got this nice shot of adrenaline. But it didn't work. Same thing though.

In b2b, the people are gonna copy, don't copy Capterra, please don't copy techtarget it's not gonna work out for you. I know, because I manage the entire met and tech target network. So trust me. So the I got so off onto a tangent there. But the framing back to the question, we go out to the web, instead of looking at just your competitor, we go out to the web, we and we learn about the topic, right? So we learn about everything we could possibly learn about this concept. So we might look at 10s of 1000s of pages, hundreds of 1000s of pages, we might look at existing knowledge data that we have, in order to build a topic model or a knowledge graph that says if you knew everything there was to know about Boston Terrier dogs, you would also know a bunch of stuff about these other dogs. You would also know that Boston Terriers are a bracket acephalic breed means they've smashed faces and and you would have coverage of that in this article. You would also then at the sight section level, you would have knowledge of other breeds and probably have other brachiocephalic breeds. And then let's go holistically, one level up. You'd have this much breadth of coverage, this much depth for coverage, this many items that are exhibiting high quality and expertise about dogs, right? And so we can tell you that at the page level, site section or site level that weaves together a narrative about where you are today, where you have gaps, where you should be focused on how easy or hard is that going to be to get to the next level with content. So how do we use data topic modelling, we can build those topics we can also, we are the only in market application that can emulate topic authoritative miscalculations. So we can actually say how authoritative your entire site is on any concept. So we can say, you are an expert in multifactor authentication. Hooray, go write everything you can. And that's kind of the story is why we use data. And we don't just tell people how to do things everybody else is doing. We also tell you how to differentiate your content. And that's something that only you can do. If you really have true knowledge. Because you you only have true knowledge, you can tell someone how to be like everyone else and how to differentiate. If you only know how to copycat, you can only tell people how to copycat. That's a critical critical aspect of marketing tech.

Mike: I just love that. Because that's, that's providing so much assistance to content teams. But still, it's placing those writers at the centre and using their creativity and encouraging something new rather than something bland, which I think is so nice.

Jeff:  It's my thing. I love it when the writer recognises that this is their, this are guardrails. But if they do something magical, like if I can do have five hours to spend, and they can spend four of those five hours, like thinking about something super cool and creative, because we took away four hours that they would have been spending doing yucky stuff and research. Like, I like that's what gets me out of bed in the morning. Like I'm like, Yeah, you did it right, or they have five hours, and they were able to put out one good article last year, at this time. Now they can put out four in those five hours because they just have this like super fast process. And like no matter whether it's that they are able to be creative with that time, or they're able to get more done. And they're doing it confidently. Like, that's, that's the dream, right? And that's and ask anyone if this isn't just me throwing smoke, like, that's what I want to hear that is so magical for me to have gone in 20 years. And you know, I'm not a writer, you know, I'm, I'm the guy with the blue stuff in my brain that talks in my head content strategist records our conversations and turns it into beautiful articles, like I can't sit down and write it, I just have too much passion for getting it getting the information out there. It's real hard for me to write. I use other processes. But no matter what the process you go through is I wanted to be faster. And I want the outputs and the outcomes to rule the day, not the process.

Mike: That's That sounds great. I mean, just looking at this, you've talked a lot about your focus on content teams, large organisations. I mean, does this mean that MarketMuse is something that really is only accessible to large enterprises?

Jeff: Well, we have multiple products. So we have a free product. And then we have a standard offering, which is for individuals and small teams that is currently being rebuilt so that it's much more accessible for the individual writer or SEO. So that's going to launch around this summer, a relaunch of the summer, and be at an easy to access price point. Our premium offering is definitely a team offering. That is where you are going to need to have somebody who wants to use data to make content decisions, you are going to want to be adopting a briefing process. And you're probably going to want to have two to three or more people who are touching content within your organisation to be able to justify the return on investment. But we have single one person solopreneurs with multiple sites who are our best users of our premium product. It's just being confident enough to make such such an investment in content. And it's really also like I tell everybody, like if you want if you think this is about cutting corners or checking Google like go go use another software platform, I would much rather you use something else. People don't really understand that. But I've learned that you're not going to be a good customer anyway, if you think you're going to trick trick the search engines like it's just not going to work out for you to use this go find something that's 4495 that cheats and and like, go do that. And then like a year later, when things don't work out for you. Find me at a conference cry on my shoulder and then I'll tell you what you should be doing and honestly that happens a lot. And so Okay, because cheating is time correlative as John Woo from Google, anti spam team, written in the book, the beauty of mathematics and computer science, one of my favourite books, which you should read, he wrote, I'm paraphrasing, but cheating is time correlative. If you're cheating on, if you're cheating in the search on the search engines, they're gonna find you, it's just a matter of time. And if there's software that's giving you insights, that aren't leading to content quality, and they're leading to manipulation, cool, all right, talk to me next month, might not happen next month, talk to me next year. And you'll realise that, you know, if you're self aware that what you're doing isn't focused on things that are going to make all boats rise, you might have hurt your brand. And what I want for you is what your cmo likely wants for their company, regardless of what role level, etc, that you're playing.

Mike: Such a positive message I'm aware of, you know, we're running out of time here. So I'm sure people would have loads of questions. I still have questions for you to be honest. But if people want to get ahold of you and find out more about market muse or have something specific, what's the best way to

Jeff: I’m uncomfortably accessible jeffrey_coyle on Twitter? Like, you know, follow, I'll follow back and we can DM for sure. jeff@marketmuse.com on LinkedIn, as long as your LinkedIn messages, don't say, Hey, I love that you do software development and have company I got what they wanted to say, I love that you have company in software development. I'm like, wow, yeah, you are definitely a bot.

As long as you actually wrote a note, maybe reference the podcast or reference, something like that. Shoot me a note on LinkedIn, shoot me an email, I respond to everything. I'm so passionate about this stuff and but also, go check out our webinars link on the top of market Muse got about 100 Content Strategy webinars there. And whatever you're interested in, I probably have done a webinar about it. And then also just, you know, typing into Google or YouTube, Jeff Coyle podcasts, you can find hundreds of recordings of me talking about something that you're probably interested in, and then reach out, give me some feedback.

Mike: That's awesome. Thank you so much, Jeff. This has been so interesting, I'm sure. So helpful to a lot of our listeners who are trying to generate some content thanks so much. I really appreciate it.

Jeff:  And this is my favourite discussion in a really long time. And I'm gonna be downloading this recording and like shooting it around our whole work like hey, listen to this. This was a great interview. And I love what you got y'all are doing. I think that your target with your group is is special. I had the opportunity to speak with you. I actually responded to my, my head of marketing. I was like, Oh, I like what they're doing gay. I'll do that. So I was already familiar with some of the work that you've been doing, and I really appreciate it. So

Mike: that's awesome. That's very cool. Thanks so much.

Thanks so much for listening to marketing b2b Tech. We hope you enjoyed the episode. And if you did, please make sure you subscribe on iTunes, or on your favourite podcast application. If you'd like to know more, please visit our website at Napier b2b dot com or contact me directly on LinkedIn.

A Napier Podcast: Interview with Matt Young - UserVoice

In this podcast episode, we interview Matt Young, CEO of UserVoice, a product feedback management solution for SaaS platforms.

Matt explains how the platform captures user feedback to deliver insights into product problems and solutions and how this raw data can be used to inform marketing and sales strategies.

Matt also shares his insight into trends within the SaaS industry.

Listen to the podcast now via the links below:

Transcript: Interview with Matt Young – UserVoice

Speakers: Mike Maynard, Matt Young

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 Matt young Matt is the CEO of user voice. Welcome to the podcast, Matt.

Matt: Hey, Mike, great to be here.

Mike: No, it's great to have you on. So tell me a little bit about your career. First, you know, how did you get to become CEO of user voice?

Matt: It's a weird story and not one that you would expect. Given my background. I've was born a technologist. So my dad worked for IBM, and we had an IBM PC in the 80s in the early days, and I was the kid that went and taught myself to programme.

So naturally through college and graduate school, I was a computer scientist and started out as a software developer, and was fortunate enough to start working in software development, right when the web became a thing when when web browsers were first coming out. So my entire professional career has been in the delivery of software for the web, and the web.

Over the years, you emerge from software developer to engineering, management, and engineering team leadership. And I had always assumed that I would be a vice president of engineering, getting people organised towards a particular goal as efficiently as possible. And that was actually the thing that drew me to use your voice, I came to use your voice in 2015. Because being in the position of directing a large engineering team to do a lot of work, you want to be fed the best quality information and the most valuable projects to do. And I frankly, didn't really believe that product teams I was working with, were researching the work that they wanted to do well enough.

So you know, being the recipient and being asked to build all that stuff. It didn't feel great user voice as a product, as we'll get into that that really helped solve that problem. But over the years, I became the CEO. And if this is an interesting story, we can we can get into it. But UserVoice ended up spinning off a second product that the original founder of the company was working on. And I ended up taking over the original user voice product that was started in 2008. So unexpected position for me that I picked up about three years ago and never really had Grand Designs on being a CEO. And I don't really fit the egotistic San Francisco mould of a b2b SaaS CEO. But nonetheless, here we are, and it's been a really fun ride.

Mike: But I think it's great to see engineers, you know, be able to take on that role of CEO and be successful. So for me, that's a real positive.

Matt: Yeah, it has been in it. I think it's a fairly unique perspective. I like many engineers, I'm an introvert, I am empathetic to quite a number of the different roles that we have in the organisation. And I'm really keen on making sure that we are logically delivering great value to our customer base and providing a great place to work for everyone who's on the team here.

Mike: Sounds amazing. So you had a situation where effectively the company built a second product, the CEO, presumably love that product so much. He was what he wanted to go and work in the spin off. Is that, is that how it worked? Or how did it happen?

Matt: Yeah, so the original founder UserVoice, was was born out of the need to get feedback about a product that he was working on, he was building a calendaring app. And it was really, really hard to get people's honest opinions about it. So he built user voice to solve that problem. Fast forward about 10 years later, and we feel like we need you know, the internet's evolve the way people interact with providing feedback and their expectations of companies evolved. And we as a company and UserVoice felt like we needed to become a multi product company.

So Rich, the founder of the company went off and started it took a small portion of our team and in house started operating like a second company. He didn't attend the all hands meetings, they had their own. They chose their own methodology for software development and product management. And they went through several iterations of a product and the the product turned out to be one that is really good for product managers who is our target buyer, but even better for sales, customer success and marketing. The market was much larger for that.

While this was happening, and this happened over the course of about a year. His mandate to me was like, Hey, I, I hold on to user voice too tightly. I founded it. I have certain No feelings about what can and cannot be touched. But you don't. I'm not a founder of the company. And I think we we both recognise that things had stagnated a little bit, the market had evolved, the world had evolved. And, you know, I'm willing to take a hatchet to things that I don't think are valuable anymore and take big swings and big risks, things I think, are important to change to make the product overall more valuable. And that had been going really well.

So through this really nice serendipitous moment, this was at the end of 2019. Rich decided to spin off the other product, which is called fathom that video, it's a free zoom, integrated note taking app for doing any kind of interviews, market research, product, research, sales, calls, Customer Success calls. He's like you're doing a great job making User Voice better. So why don't you just take over the whole company and run with that? So I did, and you know, naturally, less than six months later, a pandemic hits. So if you want a newly minted CEO, trial by fire, that's a good recipe for it.

Mike: I mean, that must be challenging, and other CEOs must have gone through that. I remember when I took over Napier, it happened about three weeks before the.com crash, so I can. Yeah, it's a real challenge. So you've kind of by accident, inherited user voice, and become CEO of user voice, which is a very fortuitous accident. So you've talked about it briefly. But do you want to just, you know, really go into the details of exactly what problem UserVoice is solving. You mentioned, Rich's problem with the Calendar app.

Matt: Yep. And how that's evolved over time really, you know, won't be until the company that doesn't pay attention to what their their customers and potential customers are saying. But that's easier said than done. You've got the problem of collecting all that information, you've got the problem of sharing all that information internally, you have the question of how reliable is that information. Customers don't always express their problems, they tend to speak in solutions. You know, I want you to generate this report. Or, I wish I could do this or that you've got ideas coming in from your internal teams, you've got salespeople and marketing people saying, hey, I really think the product could be better. If we're doing X, Y, or Z. Once you've gathered all that feedback, you've got the problem of deciding which of it is the most valuable, what you should pay attention to what action you should take from it. And that requires pulling in a bunch of different data sources like CRM, information, user behaviour, etc. And then once you've acted on that feedback, how do you then radiate back out to all the teams that need it like the sales team, the marketing team, the customer success team, all the why behind it, how they should present the new functionality that's coming up what problem that's really solving.

So really, User Voice is a software platform that's meant to just make it easy for you to follow the best practices of listening to customers, assessing the value and importance of one piece of feedback versus another and then helping your whole team kind of rally around what you've learned through transparency, better communication.

Mike: And you've focused on SAS as a market. Is that right?

Matt: We have Yeah, I think it it works best for SAS, because you've got a lot of individual customers and a clear communication channel available to you. It works best in b2b, it works really well in b2c. But it's a it's a slightly different problem. b2c is more of a popularity contest, or a b2b is more of a segmentation of your accounts problem. And make sure that you're looking at the things that are most desired by the market that you serve. We have had customers doing things like consumer packaged goods, or internal IT infrastructure. That stuff can work. I think it just takes a little bit more discipline on the part of the user of the software to be able to do that effectively. But we tend to orient all our software primarily around b2b SaaS, and secondarily, b2c SAS,

Mike: anytime see that expanding into more general product feedback in the future?

Matt: May maybe I will never say never, but but we're a pretty small company. So you know, to try to dilute the use cases that we're trying to solve for we're just probably make an inferior product. So even though I think that's something that we could solve, it's probably not something we're going to tackle in the next year. So

Mike: it makes sense for sure. So you mentioned quite a lot of sources of data that you're pulling together. So how do companies use uses voice to gather all this data from different places whether it's you know, user behaviour or CRM or whatever, and pull it together to make conclusions. I mean, is there a sort of process they follow?

Matt: Yeah. So we we try to be present wherever that information might show up, especially the qualitative information. So, if a marketer is doing market research are a really good easy to understand example, is a salesperson doing a demo. And they're getting feedback in real time from the person watching the demo, and they're taking notes. In Salesforce itself, if that is product features and functionality that is missing, and potentially causing the deal to be lost, the product team needs to know that to be able to do that. So user voice integrates with Salesforce, and a bunch of other CRMs and support tools like Zendesk, we have API's, we have the ability to integrate with email and any other kind of communication that you do, or even if you're using Zoom recording tools, and capturing notes that way, just to make sure all of that stuff can filter into a singular repository that gets it all, and makes it really, really easy for a salesperson to capture that stuff and be able to watch it. That wasn't the way that user voice started in.

In fact, the way it user was started was to get the feedback straight from the people using the product, they could go to a web portal and you know, vote on ideas or offer their own ideas. They could pop up a JavaScript widget within the application, we still support all of those mechanisms. We have API's for collecting feedback directly from users. But I think a lot of a lot of product teams are a little bit nervous to open up the firehose of feedback coming directly from users, if you if you think about it, it's a pretty brave thing to say, hey, tell us anything about what's not working for the product, there's going to be a stream of pretty negative information coming your way, they're not going to sing your praises, they're going to tell you all the ways they want you to be better.

So most people get started by collecting all that feedback through their trusted team, the people who are on the frontlines talking to customers. And when they realise like, Hey, this is really, really valuable information, it's helping me get visibility into what's actually in the heads of our users, I would value having that straight from customers. And then that creates the opportunity to have a much more open dialogue, it creates the ability to say that, you know, the product team is thinking about a feature, but the marketing team wants to know about how to talk about that feature. So we already know who's interested in it, we already know who'd be game to have an interview, who to connect with. So in terms of gathering all the feedback, we just tried to be wherever that feedback might show up and make sure that it's very easy to capture at any particular time.

Mike: And is there kind of a processing step where you're trying to take this big pile of feedback information and make sense of it?

Matt: There there is because there's a lot of it even for small companies, we handle companies all the way from, you know, 20 or 30 people companies all the way to like the Adobe's and very large companies in the world where the volume of feedback they're getting is, is massive. So I think it all starts with making sure that we always know who provided the feedback.

If you think about a b2b business, if an individual provides feedback, that individual needs to be associated with the account that they belong to, What business do they represent, you probably want to know what that account is worth, how long they've been a customer, what plan they're on what kind of segments they're in. Also, that you can relate that data to what your overarching goals as a company are, if you're trying to sell into a new market, you're trying to increase revenue, you're trying to drive up your ACV, or increased retention.

All those goals mean that you're gonna want to look at that data a little bit differently. So it all starts with who provided that data. And once we have that, we can pull in all kinds of information from CRM and financial systems to decorate it and make sure that you can query it the right ways. I think that's kind of a nice power user feature. A lot of us most of us are not necessarily a business analyst. So you don't necessarily know what the right question to ask is. So on top of that, we also try to throw on some automatic parsing have the information to point you to what's really the most important. We do that on very tactical levels, for example, like duplicate feedback becomes an issue for a lot of people but we use AI systems to try to suggest you how to deduplicate that automatically, all the way up to really high level roll up reports that let you say, Okay, I want to break into the Asia Pacific market. And Alright, tell me what the top ideas are that people are request stealing from a PAC and rank them by how much revenue, those companies are making us. And most of the time, I think we advise people like lean into your fans, they're the ones that kind of represent the people who are going to expand that customer base the most easily. So we can just deliver a report that is constantly updated, there's literally no work you have to do. It's just always there in real time updated for you.

Mike: That's interesting. It sounds like you're not effectively ranking how many times people ask, but you're actually looking a lot deeper. And you're looking at, you know, what the most important customers want, or, you know, what your next territory wants is that really what you're trying to do to get another level of insight,

Matt: it really depends on what a company's goals are. It's, it's not always wrong to say, how many people voted for it being a driver, if you're going for the popularity contest, if you might be going through an effort like where you want to increase CSAT. And one way to increase customer satisfaction is to look at what most people want. And that's a good way to do it. But if you're if you're looking more at strategic business growth, you might be looking at things more from a business metrics perspective instead.

Mike: So, I mean, this is interesting, can you give us some, you know, maybe some specific examples about how people have used the product to improve their SaaS products.

Matt: Let me give you two examples. The first is not going to be a SAS example. Because I think it's easy to understand and relatable. User Voice is used by a lot of gaming companies like Electronic Arts. And in that case, it is a popularity contest. They are you know, if they're producing a game, that sports game that gets iterated every year, they want to make sure that the next year's version reflects the desire of the biggest player base, so that they have the highest likelihood of selling next year's version to those people. So that just happens all the time every day.

A really good success case for us as a company called Procore. Procore is a it's a unicorn SAS company that feeds construction managers. So if a suburb is being developed with 100 houses or something like that Procore deliver software that makes sure that all the materials are arriving on the right time that every other construction is on schedule, etc. But the users of that software are men and women who are wearing hard hats, and construction boots and using an iPad, to access the software. And that's really different from most of us, what most of us think about is assess user who's sitting in front of a computer with, you know, a nice polo shirt or something like that. They're happy to use software. If you use something like user voice, you can understand really like how to really serve the needs of a very specific audience like that, like how to make it simple enough to use to understand so that they can really get to the bottom of a very specific use case, which is building houses. So Procore is a company needs to really understand the business that their customers are in. But this gives them a really iterative feedback mechanism for them to find out where they're hitting the mark and where they're off. So it's, those are kind of two extreme areas. Most people are just working on using the feedback to figure out like, what's the next sprint going to look like? What's our next quarter or six month planning going to look like? And really trying to equate that with, with what the goals of the business are?

Mike: Makes a lot of sense. So one of the things I'm interested in is marketing, make use of user feedback. And I'm thinking particularly, you know, do you get feedback about features that customers particularly like? Can you then use that in marketing? How do marketing people use the data? Yeah,

Matt: I think that we always share the feedback that we use User Voice ourselves, of course, and we always share the the raw feedback that we got from our users with marketing, because as they're crafting messaging to this to describe what we actually did, what its value is what you use it for. It always lands better. If you're using the words and the phrases that came to you in the first place. This is the way that the user of the software is actually thinking about the problem and thinking about the solution. It's just going to make it very easy for you to communicate it effectively to people when it comes to allowing marketing to lean into the most loved areas of the product. We determined through behavioural Analytics, which is something that user voice doesn't do, where people are spending the most time and all of those things.

But whenever we're researching a new product, we take the opportunity, as we're interviewing customers from a product perspective, to learn about how it fits into the big picture of their workflow. Why do they want this improvement? How does it relate to the other tasks they're doing day over day, we capture all that feedback again, back into user voice. So you might think that user voice just captures the initial idea. It does do that. But then we continually add to that as we learn more about it. As we conduct interviews, all of that information goes into user voice. So if you look at the maturation of an idea in user voice from when it first showed up, to us actually deploying a solution for it, you can see all the discussion. And that's just a goldmine, not only for marketing, but for sales. How should we demo the software? What kind of collateral should we put together as a leave behind? Or, you know, what videos should we create? And how should we narrate those videos? In the end, I'm a firm believer that all the research that any company does, whether it's product research, market research, sales research should be shared cross departmentally, because there's value in it for for everybody. That's not always easy to do. And some company organisations get protective of their their fiefdoms a little bit. But if you can share that stuff, you'll at minimum, prevent duplicate work. And at best, just create something that's just a knock it out of the park, answer to the problem from the get go.

Mike: I love the idea of sharing. And it's particularly interesting, you know, when you started talking about the benefits to departments like marketing, it's not about the features. It's about how you talk and understanding the way that goes, we think I think that's a really interesting benefit from from getting that user feedback.

Matt: Yeah, I also think that it helps the whole organisation understand how product teams make decisions about what they build. There's a lot of recency bias in market research and in what salespeople hear, you might think that just because you've heard something twice recently, that it is the best thing to do. But if someone could actually come to you and say, Hey, thanks, I got that feedback, we read it, I can definitely acknowledge that I heard what you told us. But here's the analysis that we did. And we compared it against everything else that we've heard from you from sales from the research that we've done. And we can show you that, hey, you know, our biggest opportunity really looks like it's here. And then suddenly, the marketing team who's tasked with putting forth information about new features and retaining people isn't starting from this position of like, I don't know why they did this, you know, I told them that this was the most important thing to do. And that all came from a good position, a good healthy position, but it just wasn't objectively the right thing to do at the right time. And I think that takes away a lot of these like anxieties about not necessarily believing in what the r&d team or an organisation is building.

Mike: That's great. I love that way of getting everyone you know, buying into to the same goal effectively. I mean, that's a really cool benefits.

Matt: Yeah, we, we also User Voice intentionally, we don't charge based on seats, it would be an easy way for us to make more money, but like if, if I made you pay for everyone on your support team to be able to send feedback into the system that would kind of discourage you from doing that. And we think like, the more data, the better. We also don't limit the number of people who can log in and use that data for their own purposes. So I think it would just be at odds to try to like limit access to that information for people. So it's really common for our marketing team to look in our own user voice instance, not to figure out what we should build, but to start looking for phrases and language about how we should talk about things.

Mike: That's cool. I mean, you mentioned pricing there, and you said that you deal with you know, everything from a small 20 person SAS company to you know, some of these giants. I mean, how does the pricing work then for that? That's such a range of customers?

Matt: Yeah, the the growth levers are really built based off of the coverage of your user base, how many how many unique users you actually have giving you feedback, because we did a lot of research through a third party company to get this objective feeling about where, where you feel value, and it's, it's in the diversity of perspective that you're getting. If you're doing one on one interviews right now, that's great, but it's hard to scale up to a lot of them. And you might worry that like at great, you know, I've got this person's perspective, but they're the people I always talk to, where if you've got 200 or 500 or 1000 different points of view on it, you can feel much more confident in the actionability of what's going on.

So So, we have three different tiers. And those tears just have limits in the number of people giving you feedback and the early stages of a company, you might not have a huge user base, so it cost less. When you're a very large company, and we're processing a lot of data for you, then we're saving you a lot of time by being able to deliver insights from all that stuff for you. So hopefully, it scales well with the perceived value of a product.

Mike: I love that as it was just like a really simple approach to pricing there, you know, how many users are you doing? Let's put you in tears. That's great. I mean, is it as easy to deploy? Because it sounds like you're pulling data from lots of different systems is that does that become quite a complex project?

Matt: It's not, we've spent a pretty significant amount of time making sure that all of those integrations are quite simple, selfishly, from a business perspective for us, if we can't do that, and we tell you, you're going to have have to pay us a bunch of money, and then you're going to have this project. No one wants that the goal of SAS is to like have an out of box solution for people. So historically, integrating software with Salesforce has always been a big pain in the neck. And for us it anyone can do it, and it takes about three minutes to get done. So we try to make that very, very simple.

I think the biggest effort is likely in the organisational change of making sure that people think to capture feedback when it comes in. And one thing that's that we view is our job is really important to help our customers with is to make sure that everyone in their organisation like a marketing individual understands the value of doing this, you might not see it right now. But in two months here, you've got a bunch of really useful information to help you with your job as well.

Mike: That's, that's amazing. I, you know, one thing I'm intrigued about you obviously work with a lot of leading SaaS companies. Do you see any trends in SAS, I mean, what we're going to see in SAS products in the next couple of years is going to allow us and make us excited.

Matt: Oh, my God, I see a lot of trends in SAS, I think the as a, as a CEO of a company, I could say the diplomatic thing and say that I think that competition makes all of our products better. But if I were honest, I would say oh, God, that makes your job so much harder to begin with. But the nice thing about competition is that it really drives the quality of solutions forward. Eventually, even if you there's I think we all know the expression product market fit is the product appropriate for the market that you're you're getting into. There's another phrase called purchase market fit. Where are you able to sell the product to people? Is your marketing really good? Is your sales really good. But then your attention might not be good if product market fit is not there right behind it.

So I think some of the trends I'm seeing and says is that the people who have these amazing marketing engines, but they don't have the technology chops underneath or the smarts to really solve the problems, those companies are going to fall by the wayside. And it's not enough to be flashy, it's not enough to be the cheapest, it's not enough to be the newest darling. So, because of that, I think that the biggest thing that most SaaS companies need defend against is the very easy portability of moving from vendor to vendor in the same space it's vendor lock in is not as much a thing as it as it used to be. So we all as assess business operators need to make sure that the product is really good, that our support is really good, that our ability to coach and provide best practices. And I think that that's an area where I see marketing, being a very huge help less about selling the product more about driving continual value in the product. And that's where I think a product like user voice is really important. You may achieve product market fit, but how are you going to hang on to it.

As products become easier and quicker to develop easier and quicker to market, it means you just need to keep up and keep two or three steps ahead of where the market is going. So I don't see operating SAS businesses as getting any easier. anytime soon, I think it's going to get more challenging. I see.

You know, I'm a consumer of SAS software myself, and I don't have the time to look at all the options that are out there. I don't want to talk to people about it. I really want a product lead experience where I can do a free trial on my own, decide if it's the right fit for me, I want transparency and pricing to be able to understand what this would cost and make all that evaluation when there's so many options out there. The it doesn't need to be completely self service. There can be sales involved, but you need to be able to get to a point where you understand whether it's worth investing your time really, really quickly.

So I don't think I gave you one problem. I think I gave you the Legion of SAS problems just now but it's none of it's getting any simpler. It's getting there. To give you a positive, it is easier than ever to develop software, which is good because it will lower r&d costs over time.

Mike: You know, I mean, it sounds good to us as like me. You know, science pros are just going to get better. Maybe not so good. If you're the engineer, he's got to develop all the new features. But

Matt: yeah, are the person needs to place the right bets at the right time. But then again, that's why I think that research is so important. If you discover before you've lifted a design or an engineering feature, that something will not have the market impact that you thought it would. Cool, you may be throwing out some work that you did, but you didn't go way down this path, only to discover that it feels much later.

Mike: So awesome. I mean, quite a positive view there for SAS. I mean, I'm interested in what are your ambitions? So yourself? I mean, where do you see user voice going now that that your, your CEO, and it's all down to you?

Matt: Yeah. This may sound a little unusual, I think most CEOs will tell you that they expect to be a billion dollar company. And you know, from their private islands, start seven more companies and keep going and going. User Voice doesn't want to do that. But we want to be the best at what we do. And oftentimes we get asked to do things that are kind of horizontally associated with what user voice does. Why haven't we built a general purpose survey tool for marketing or for sales, because we're in the feedback business, or why don't we also have behavioural analytics or design review tools like product managers often use.

So user voice is going to continue to be the best at making sure that we can understand product problems and product needs from people and give people the ability to understand that versus their business goals. To do that, effectively, I think it's either going to come down to partnerships or acquisition for us like we need to hold hands with other best of breed solutions that are needed to operate a successful b2b SaaS company. And we are one of several tools that you would use to communicate with your customer base. Obviously, you'd use a CRM tool, your marketing team is going to have their own tools through HubSpot, etc. Making sure that all of those can provide value across the whole organisation is really important to us. And I think for us, that's going to mean partnerships from a business perspective. And then ongoing automation, the the volume of data that we deal with is going to not decrease as long as we do our job. Well.

One thing I haven't mentioned yet is keeping customers engaged. I think all of us know how hard it is to get people's attention. It's the slew of survey requests, meeting requests that we're all getting every day. So how do I make it as easy as possible for a customer or an internal team member to share their thoughts and bring it in. And we're trying to think of ever simpler ways to make that more natural through technology so that as you're thinking of it, boom, it's there. And it's very, very low effort.

Mike: So some, and I love the focus, we're going to do what we do, and we're gonna partner and that's how we'll be successful. Yeah, it's really refreshing to hear that

Matt: I don't want to produce a watered down version of something that someone else just really really does well, like, what why bother?

Mike: So awesome. So I really appreciate your time on the podcast, man. I mean, if people have got questions, wanting to know more about User Voice, or just want to talk to you about what you've said in the podcast, what's the best way to contact you?

Matt: Sure. I always say that it would be very hypocritical for me to not want feedback about what we have to say it's our core line of business. So my email door is always open. It's Matt at user voice.com. You can find me on LinkedIn met young Matt, young User Voice is the best search term because my name is so common.

But user voice.com is where you can learn more about our products. You can do free trials of any of our products and just learn a little bit more about it. Even if you're not interested in buying it. I'd love to have people take a look at its men in especially if you're willing to share with us like what resonated with you and where you thought like, yeah, not for me. It's just basically like free customer interview for me. It's a great thing. But if we can help on on any other front, like you just something that we said was interesting, and you'd like to chat. Happy to do that, too.

Mike: Well, that's awesome. I really appreciate your time. Matt, thanks so much for being on the podcast.

Matt: It was a lot of fun, Mike, thank you.

Mike: 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.

What B2B Marketers Need to Consider When it Comes to Email Marketing

Natasha Websdale, Marketing Specialist at Napier, shares her views on what B2B marketers need to consider when it comes to email marketing, drawing from her own experience, and two insightful reports.

Email marketing is an important part of any marketing strategy, keeping audiences up-to-date on the latest products, company news and business insights. Email activity has grown massively over the last couple of years with an increase of approximately 60% from March-April 2020 and remaining at this level throughout 2021.

As email traffic increases and subscribers’ inboxes fill up, competition to capture their attention has grown; making it more important than ever for B2B marketers to stay up to date on the latest email marketing techniques.

I recently came across a couple of reports talking about trends and challenges for 2022. The Smart Insights Email Marketing Trends 2022 report presents the views and predictions of 10 marketing experts, whilst Validity’s Mastering The New Email Landscape report analyses global email performance in 2021 and forecasts the future for email marketing.

This blog will look at some of the things these reports, and my own experience as a digital marketer has taught me to keep in mind in 2022.

The importance of the customer journey

Something that becomes increasingly clear to me as I continue my career in marketing is the importance of the customer journey. Not understanding where a customer is, or how to move them through the funnel could lead to missed opportunities. Email can help you reach potential customers at the right time and move them from being unaware of your business to become customers and brand advocates.


Stages include:

This stage is all about brand awareness. Educational content such as eBooks and White Papers can help to introduce you to your audience and position you as knowledgeable experts on specific challenges.

Here audiences are actively searching for a solution to their problem and could be considering your products and services. Sending them content such as case studies and testimonials can help to build trust with your brand.

At this point, the audience is already educated about what you are offering, and the goal is to encourage them to press the “buy” button. Here you should include content such as demos and pricing sheets, providing the audience with the facts.

It is important to remember that not everyone’s journey looks the same, some may progress slower, and some may respond better to different content or a different email cadence. This is where email platforms that allow for audience segmentation, personalisation and triggered content come in.

Personalisation is vital

Personalisation is targeting an email or email campaign to a specific contact by leveraging the data and information you have about them. Chances are, if you are creating email campaigns then you are personalising the content. Personalisation is nothing new to us marketers, with Litmus sharing that 9 in 10 marketers believe personalisation is imperative to overall business strategy.

The top 10 personalisation factors used in email marketing are shown in the graph below. Complex personalisation factors, such as past website interactions, are being used significantly less than simple personalisation’s such as name. This is something we should take advantage of, to stand out amongst our competitors.

Basic personalisation tactics include using shortcodes such as “SubscriberFirstName” and “SuscriberEmailAddress” to insert the subscribers profile information. More advanced tactics include changing email content based on the data you have about the subscriber, such as the last product they brought and what pages they have visited on your website.

It is important to find the right level of personalisation within an email, some top tips to consider include:

Be sensitive to strangers
Be sensitive to the information you may have about a customer, including too many details and seeming like you know too much risks appearing creepy.

Plan for scenarios where there isn’t any or incorrect data
You may not have all the data you need, such as a first name. Make sure you have default options set up, so you don’t risk addressing an email to ‘Fname’.

Consider where they are in the customer journey
What are the expectations and needs of the audience at that moment? Marketing messages need to change depending on where the contact is in the customer journey.

Optimise automations and personalisation’s
AI is key here. For example, AI could replace manual segmentation to work out each customer’s interest towards certain categories and messages.

The power of marketing automation

I am continuing to learn the capabilities of Marketing Automation platforms and the benefits they can have. Platforms such as Hubspot and Marketo allow you to lead score, integrate CRMs, monitor campaign performance, know subscribers’ activity and much more.

This collected data means that you can trigger content, such as emails, based on the actions of each subscriber. For example, if a subscriber downloads a piece of content on a particular product, you could automate an email with more information on that product.

Triggering emails based on behaviour ensures the audience is receiving the right information at the right time, personalising their customer journey.

Marketing automation has become more intelligent with the addition of AI and Machine Learning, which evaluates historical interactions to generate insights for future communications. This can include the best time to send someone an email, how to optimise subject lines and automating content.

Measure what matters

Traditional benchmark metrics have been losing value over the last few years.

Apple’s Mail Privacy Protection (MPP) has had a significant impact, resulting in much higher and unreliable open rate figures. Validity says that as adoption of MPP continues, average open rates will level out between 30-40%. To get a true picture of open rates, senders will need to identify MPP opens versus genuine opens.

Because of MPP, marketers are turning away from opens to clicks as their key measure of subscriber engagement, meaning competition for clicks is higher than ever. But clicks are not a reliable measure for success either. Something that I have come across when measuring email campaigns is bot clicks. This is where “bots” click each link in an email to find any links that may contain harmful content. This skews click data and means that it is not a true reflection of the actions the audience is making.

It may be time to stop measuring the success of email campaigns on traditional metrics and instead how they help move us closer to our business goals. The future of metrics will be dependent on what B2B marketers are looking to achieve with their email campaigns and applying KPIs based on the actions they want visitors to take.


Email marketing continues to be a vital tool in any marketer’s toolbox. Considering our audience at every step, embracing new and emerging technologies and making sure we remain focused on our goals and not distracted by vanity metrics are just some of the things that can lead us to success in 2022.