Napier is a B2B technology PR agency that uses deep market insight to deliver integrated PR and marketing campaigns that drive our clients' commercial success in the UK and across Europe. We build campaign plans from our clients' business goals, using our research and expertise to find the best strategies, media and messages. Napier delivers content-driven campaigns that cut across..
Marketing is changing rapidly: just a few years ago it was only the brave pioneers who were running marketing automation systems, yet today the majority of B2B tech companies see automation as one of the pillars of their activities. Despite the widespread adoption of marketing automation, however, I often hear client’s express disappointment at the results they achieve. Why do people pay good money for a tool that often disappoints?
In his excellent book, Disrupted, that describes his time at HubSpot, Dan Lyons meets a salesperson who explains that:
“Some customers buy the software but don’t use it because they are too busy to write a blog. They’re like people who sign up for a gym membership but never go to the gym… And then there are about 10 percent of the customers where it’s absolutely magic”
How do you make sure that you’re one of the companies that is blessed with the “magic”? My experience suggests that it’s not as difficult as it sounds.
Firstly, you need to be in a suitable industry. Marketing automation, and Inbound marketing work best in industries that have high-involvement decisions. In particular it’s decisions where people actively research to seek out information that will help them either choose the best product or (and this is probably the most common case) avoid a career-limiting wrong choice. Most B2B tech markets meet this requirement, and so we’re already half-way there. A bigger challenge, however, is understanding the two ingredients of marketing automation.
The Two Magic Ingredients of Marketing Automation
Like a wizard making a spell, marketing automation magic relies on a potion to be created. This potion needs two vital ingredients.
The first is high-quality publishing. To be successful with your marketing automation campaign, the content you create must be valuable to your target audience. You need to be creating materials that match, or preferably exceed the quality of the information in the trade press.
Of course, this means providing technical information and advice. But publishing isn’t just about the quality of the writing: it’s about making sure you are delivering what the audience wants. Too often we see companies producing expensive content that takes hours to create but doesn’t address the concerns of customers and potential customers. What might be an issue for you, may not be a problem for your customers.
Once you start thinking like a publisher, you’ll be able to forget about the internal pressures and view things from your audience’s point of view. This will help you create great content that resonates with potential customers.
The second magical ingredient is effective nurturing. It’s about guiding customers along a journey at their speed, not yours. It would be great if simply saying “buy X” worked, but for high-involvement decisions, that simply is not the way customers choose.
Great guides move you from one stage of the journey to the next in a way that is so subtle and smooth you barely notice it. Just getting to the next landmark is something that feels easy and realistic, whereas talking about the entire journey can feel terrifying. When you are struggling in a marathon, the best approach is to simply get to the next lamppost, and then the next, rather than thinking “there are only eight miles to go”.
It’s hard to nurture customers effectively. They don’t follow the journey you want them to take. They can stop and go back a stage. They rarely move to being ready to purchase as quickly as you like. Great marketing automation campaigns are rarely the result of a stunningly effective email (magic bullets rarely exist) but are generally a beautiful path created from many small steps forward. This can be very different to thinking like a publisher, where an “Pulitzer-Quality” piece of content might have potential customers flocking to the site.
How to Mix the Two Ingredients to Make Magic
Some magic is created by individuals who have been trained well, whereas others prefer to work in groups. In reality, most great marketing automation magic is created by groups. It’s extremely difficult to generate all the content and rules required for great campaigns without a team, and as I’ve pointed out in this post, publishers and guides think very differently.
It’s definitely hard work to create marketing automation magic, but if you mix the two ingredients correctly, it’s extremely likely that you’ll be in the group that finds magic.
Since the acquisition of Armitage Communications Ltd by Napier Partnership Limited at the beginning of 2019, the natural synergy between Peter Bush Communications and Armitage Communications has become apparent, due to their non-conflicting clients and focus on similar markets. The merger creates an agency with a team of journalists; electronic and mechanical engineers; and experienced marketing professionals, that offers a vast amount of market insight and knowledge to drive clients’ commercial success.
There will be no change to clients served, and the office and team in Saffron Walden will remain. The merger allows Peter Bush’s existing clients to have access to additional services and resources provided by Armitage Communications as well as those of Napier.
“The merging of Peter Bush Communications into Armitage Communications creates a team with deep understanding and expertise of markets such as industrial automation, communications and electronics/electrical, enabling them to offer deep technical market insight to clients,” commented Mike Maynard, managing director of the Napier Group. “The companies already work together across several clients, and this move will create a strongly integrated agency that will help our clients create and distribute compelling marketing content.”
Napier Partnership’s mission remains providing a comprehensive content development and distribution service that speeds the process of converting awareness to opportunity for B2B technology companies.
The IKTEM Conference 2019, an international development event for ICT, electronics and mechatronics development engineers, has been declared a great success for 2019.
Now on its second year, the conference organised by Svet elektronike & Svet mehatronike magazines, took place at the Rogla Ski resort from the 30th-31st May 2019.
The two-day event offered participants several exciting sessions and workshops, with key-note speaker Professor Janez Bester, PhD, from Faculty of Electronic Engineering Ljubljana, discussing the topic of Industry 4.0 and Society 5.0. Lectures also included a demonstration of the latest measuring equipment; and on the second day, a live NB hands-on IoT workshop took place for the first time in Slovenia.
Jurij Mikeln, President of the IKTEM Organization Board commented “We look forward to the next IKTEM conference which – I do not doubt – will address many interesting up to date technical topics that professionals from ICT, electronics & mechatronics have to know”.
As the only conference in Slovenia that provides engineers with lectures and hands-on workshops for the ICT, electronics and mechatronics sectors. We think it’s great to see the industry responding so positively, and we look forward to continuing to see both the IKTEM conference and industry flourish within Slovenia.
PCIM Europe 2019, the leading international event for power electronics, has delivered some impressive results; welcoming a total of 12,182 visitors and 515 exhibitors over the 3-day event.
It’s clear to see that PCIM Europe has gained traction over the years, with both visitors and exhibitors steadily increasing. (In 2016, the event received a total of 10,053 visitors, and last year the event closed with a record result of 11,000 visitors.)
The conference, which is an important part of the show, featured brand new topics that were presented to the public for the first time, in as many as 333 lectures and poster presentations, with contributors from academia and the industry.
This year, the exhibition also saw an increase in international exhibitors and visitors; as 56% of attendees were revealed to have travelled from abroad. Japan was the strongest-represented country with 15%, and France and the USA were close behind, ranked two and three at 13% and 10%.
With 93% of visitors in favour of recommending PCIM Europe to others, and 75% of them planning to attend the exhibition next year, we look forward to seeing the direction PCIM Europe will take, as trade shows in Germany at least, continue to be an important part of the electronics industry’s marketing mix.
We all know that the key to making sales is to first generate leads. But at Napier, we also understand that generating high-quality leads is harder than it looks.
This blog details seven common mistakes marketers make within their marketing automation and CRM; and some tips on how you can overcome them, to ensure you are using your marketing automation system to its full potential; in order to increase your ROI.
Failing to Segment Your Customers
The benefit of segmenting customers is that you can reach out to them via personalised content to match their current needs at each stage of the funnel. Your customers’ needs will change and evolve over time, so it’s important that your business continuously adapts to provide your customers with the right information. Failing to segment/ group your customers means you risk sending them the wrong information at the wrong time, such as sending irrelevant content that they have no interest in.
Believing It’s a Mass-Produced World
Most recognize that there are no true mass markets anymore. Instead it goes beyond looking at market segments to embrace that ‘every customer has their own market’; with customers demanding a personalised and tailored approach. Here are four top tips towards providing personalised customer service via marketing automation:
Pay close attention to different channels used by your audience
Make sure your customers service team moves between channels to follow the customer
Make sure you are proactive in your customer interactions
Take customer feedback seriously, and provide regular opportunities for customers to leave feedback
Focusing on Your Worst Customers Instead of Your Best Customers
It may seem convenient to accommodate those hard-to-please customers, but a successful business will develop long-lasting relationships with ideal customers. The strategy is effective and simple, give your higher value customers the attention they deserve, and in return they are more likely to buy from your business again. Businesses should focus on customer delight, as it costs a lot less to retain an existing customer than it does to generate a new customer from scratch. When deciding which of your clients are your ideal customers, take into consideration these questions:
Are you biggest customers your best customers?
Can you find a way to learn which customers will generate the most profit in the near future and focus on them?
Will you only focus on the customers that are the most profitable?
It’s important to understand that your best customers will not always be your biggest customers, and it’s imperative to focus on developing long-lasting relationships by ensuring your customers get the attention they deserve.
Fail to Innovate with Your Customers in Mind
Innovation is the willingness to introduce new ideas and take risks; don’t be afraid to seek new opportunities with your customers in mind.
It’s important to keep your content fresh, and to continuously update and change your approach, so your audience are not receiving the same emails or seeing the same posts again and again.
Forgetting to Measure Customer Service
Adapting to your customers’ needs is important, but you also need to track the impact of those changes. Although you may think you are already listening to your customers, measuring your progress is a more reliable source of measuring your growth. Here are five metrics you can use to help measure your performance:
Response time – how long does it take you to respond to customer service questions?
How long does it take you to resolve the customer’s problem?
Percentage of visitors that found what they were looking for
Customer rating – ask your customers to give you an overall rating on how good their experience was
Watch and monitor the mass volume of customer communication across all channels
It’s important to review your metrics regularly and examine your strengths and weaknesses to improve where necessary.
Being Overconfident with Your Company’s’ Strengths
Although it is good to understand where your company’s strengths lie, there is a fine line between positioning yourself as an expert and being overconfident about what you can achieve. It’s important to understand that every situation is different, and you should never overestimate your ability to impress and delight your customers; as a success for one client, could be a failure for another. To ensure you avoid this situation you can do the following:
Make a list of your business strengths and ask/ create a survey to see if your customers agree with you.
Revisit old company data to see if you have improved
Communicate with stakeholders and discuss how to improve, this will allow you to better focus on your strengths when interacting with customers; An honest discussion will also help you work out what areas need adjusting/amending.
Latching on to the 4Ps
The four Ps, product, price, promotion, and place are not as relevant as they used to be; when businesses once targeted customers, customers now target businesses. Instead of using the 4Ps, focus on:
Getting access to the best customers
Acting quickly and effectively – taking as little of the customer’s time as possible
Employing the right people who can talk to your customers
Associate and collaborate with the right partners
Collect and measure customer data to ensure you continuously improve
Although I have always questioned the value of the maker market, I was really disappointed to hear the announcement that Maker Media is closing. Make magazine and the Maker Faires have been the peak of the maker movement, and to think that there is a chance that it’s all over is sad. I am hopeful that someone will decide to rescue the publication and the events, but so far no one has stepped forward.
To make things even worse, this isn’t a surprise: a month ago the San Jose Mercury News reported, during the last Maker Faire, that the company was experiencing financial challenges. It looks like these challenges were too great to overcome.
Despite attracting tens of thousands to the last Maker Faire, the numbers just don’t add up for the company. You could choose to blame Microsoft and Autodesk, who have previously supported events but chose not to contribute the last one in Silicon Valley, but perhaps it would be more reasonable to applaud their support in prior years.
We think the reality is that marketers have finally realised that not all makers are potential high-value customers. In fact, most makers are never going to spend lots of money as they are simply pursuing their hobby and have no intention of forming the next unicorn start-up.
For a while makers were the ‘darlings’ of B2B tech marketers. “If Pebble can grow so big, why can’t every maker do the same?” hoped many. The reality is that there were hundreds of reasons why most makers were not going to develop their hobby into a large business, which pretty much can be boiled down to either that they didn’t want to, or that it is simply unbelievably, incredibly hard to start a hardware business and most that try won’t succeed.
It’s not the first time that marketers have looked at the world through rose-tinted spectacles, and I’m sure that there will be other markets in the future that are viewed in the same positive, pinkish glow. The immediate question, however, is whether it’s all over for the maker market. Despite being a bit of a cynic about makers, my answer is an emphatic “NO”.
Yes, marketers got over-enthusiastic about the maker market. Yes, they spent money that they probably won’t get back chasing the “hobbyist makers”, but I still believe that there is part of the maker community that can, and will, create fabulous companies that ship products in high volume.
The challenge is finding these “professional makers” who have an interest in developing ideas commercially and helping them achieve their dreams. They are a very small subset of the total maker community, so sifting them out from the hobbyists and giving them the special attention they deserve will be a challenge for marketers in the coming months. If this is done well, then there is still an opportunity for many companies to serve the hobbyist maker market: despite the low volumes that they buy, this community is only likely to grow, and I am sure a lot of companies will run successful and profitable campaigns to hobbyists by optimising costs.
Will this all be enough to drive someone to rescue Maker Media? Personally, I really hope that it will. I’ve even had a dig down the back of the sofa to see if I could get some funds together, but it looks like my teenage kids might have already found the treasure that I am sure was there.
I was really sad to see the news that Advantage Business Marketing has closed. Although this news has yet to be confirmed, the lack of a response from Advantage Business Marketing (ABM) suggest that unfortunately the publisher is closing and with it ECN may disappear. Of course there is still a chance that ECN could be acquired from the ashes of ABM, although now that Arrow has stopped its acquisition frenzy we don’t seem to be overloaded with too many organisations looking to buy an electronics publication.
I would like to relate the situation directly to the electronics market, but in this case, I don’t think I can. Although ECN was a major part of ABM, it probably wasn’t dominant enough to cause the failure of what was a substantial organisation. In fact, ABM position ECN as just one of the “five pillars” – the five publications on which the business had been built.
It does leave some worrying questions about the American electronics publications that remain standing. Can they survive? Will niche B2B publishing even survive in the US?
The good news is that some publishers are still more than confident about the future and may even see a smaller field of titles as an opportunity to grow market share. In fact, Julia Stocks, one of the owners of Power Systems Design seemed even more optimistic than ever about PSD’s future when we emailed about the closure of ABM.
Let’s hope that this is an isolated event. With much of the ownership of electronics media in the USA concentrated in the hands of Arrow, we don’t want to see an oligopoly form as competitors shut down. The result of a concentration of media ownership is rarely good, and competition is something that everyone should welcome as a way to force the electronics media to become even better than it is today.
Is your first reaction to this post “Marketing middlewhat?” If so, you’re not alone: most marketers are unaware of what marketing middleware is, and what it can do to simplify their day-to-day marketing operations.
What is Marketing Middleware?
The term “marketing middleware” is something we are using at Napier to describe a class of software that is technically called “integration platforms” or for the cloud-based systems iPaaS (integration platform as a service). We like our name as it’s simple and this software is used in between two different applications to share data: effectively providing “software glue” between two separate systems.
Why Do we Need this Software?
In the past, data tended to be locked into a particular system. Linking different systems was difficult and expensive, and vendors tended to make it extremely difficult to integrate systems from two different vendors in the same market.
In the MarTech (marketing technology) world, this is a particularly bad thing. With marketing sectors such as digital publishing, social media and website technology developing so rapidly, it’s practically impossible for any vendor to provide a tool that is really good at everything you want to do as a marketer. In the old days you’d have to either buy multiple tools and accept that data couldn’t be shared between them, or compromise with a tool that could do most things you needed it to at a just-acceptable level.
The marketing middleware sits between the different systems ensuring data is shared between them, allowing marketing teams to get the best of both worlds: integration of the data and the best-in-class tools.
Why Now? The Rise of the API
Interestingly it turned out that making it difficult to integrate different tools was not a good idea for the software companies that did it. Although there was some element of lock-in, this was more than offset by the need to create integrations because they were demanded by large, important customers or a significant number of smaller users.
So, companies started to make integrations easier by providing an API – an “application programming interface”. An API is a set of clearly defined methods for communicating with a software application or module: for example, allowing the data for a particular contact to be retrieved easily from a CRM package.
Although APIs solve many problems, they don’t actually interface between different martech systems: each API is different and designed specifically for the package. So, to integrate between different systems we need marketing middleware that is able to access data using the APIs used by specific systems. The use of standard integrations simplifies the challenge of integrating between the many different vendors and systems: rather than having to write integrations for every possible combination of tools, the marketing middleware vendors simply write one interface to each system’s API and use the core of their platform to move the data.
The systems also typically have direct interfaces into common databases, allowing access to some databases that don’t have an API.
How Do These Tools Work?
These tools are typically cloud-based applications, which makes sense as they are generally transferring data from one cloud application to another. Often, they will offer a less-common self-hosted version, and most also provide on-premise connectors that allow thee systems to securely access data behind the organisation’s firewall.
To use the systems, you generally just select the connectors you want and then map fields from one system to another. The platforms will process the data, and generally have a simple programming-like language to modify information as required. Some also offer functions such as lookup tables. Once you understand how to code for these systems, integrations can be set up in a matter of minutes or hours, rather than the weeks or months that would be required to write bespoke software to interface between two systems.
Some Leading Marketing Middleware Vendors
There are several companies that provide integration platforms that can be used as glue between marketing software applications. They include:
Zapier – many marketers are already using Zapier to execute simple actions to automate marketing work. Zapier is one of the simpler, and more limited solutions, yet it still provides excellent integration functionality that meets the needs of many marketing teams.
Scribe Online – this has been our favourite platform, partly because they offered an amazingly powerful, low-cost solution for HubSpot. Although this plan is no longer available, Scribe Online still provides extensive capabilities at a reasonable price.
Mulesoft – this is probably the system your IT department would like to use. It’s well-known with a strong market share and provides powerful functionality. Although it has readily available connectors for the major enterprise marketing systems, it perhaps is less well served when looking at other martech vendors.
Dell Boomi – another product that really focusses on the IT department, but Boomi also offers a large range of connectors for various marketing technology applications.
snapLogic – another IT-focussed product, with a limited number of martech connectors. Make sure that you can get the connectors you need off-the-shelf, otherwise you’ll be calling on your IT department to build connectors, which rather misses the point of using marketing middleware.
Jitterbit – a solution that also claims to offer AI capabilities to your integrations. Jitterbit has a large number of martech integrations as standard on its website and also has integration with agile tools such as Jiri, which might be attractive if you use agile marketing techniques.
How Do I Get Started?
Many of these tools offer free trials, so it’s fairly easy to evaluate what they can do for you. Once you are in a subscription, you’ll probably be paying something between $500 and $2000 per month, depending upon how many systems you need to integrate.
Although they are much simpler than writing code, it still takes real expertise to take advantage of marketing middleware. The fastest way to realise all the benefits of these solutions is to contact an agency that has experience of using these platforms to simplify and improve marketing processes. We’d done it, so why not ask Napier how you can use marketing middleware?