Award-winning digital marketing and customer experience agency

Novacom international expansion continues with Netherlands subsidiary

Novacom international expansion continues with Netherlands subsidiary

It’s an exciting time here at Novacom, with a number of new technology developments, some really interesting client projects and four shiny new awards over the last year.

We’ve also been lucky to enjoy significant growth in international markets over the last three years, building on client relationships across EMEA and the US.

As part of this development, we’ve been looking to help support our clients even better and have been growing our international office network rapidly with presences in continental Europe and the US.

Now we’re pleased to announce the latest chapter in our international growth: the founding of a brand-new subsidiary in the Netherlands, Novacom Amsterdam BV.

Based (as the name suggests) in central Amsterdam on the prestigious Herengracht, minutes from Central Station and Dam Square, we chose Amsterdam for its dynamic, vibrant creative atmosphere and innovative thinking.

From this office, our multi-lingual team support our clients in the Netherlands and across Europe, and we’re continuing to build on our recent client successes to grow our offer and provide the very best service we can to our global clients.

We’ve also been lucky to enjoy significant growth in international markets…across EMEA and the US.

Integrated marketing and sales: the road to revenue generation

Integrated marketing and sales: the road to revenue generation

Marketing and sales teams have traditionally fought different battles on different B2B battlefields, rarely analysing each others’ objectives or taking into consideration each others’ strategies.

While unhelpful, in traditional marketing and sales organisations this didn’t really impede business performance, but it didn’t improve it either, and it seems it didn’t really matter, because the true disadvantage to an enterprise was almost invisible. That is, until now.

Increasingly competitive markets

The issue is now that as markets have increased in size, and as consumption has grown in B2B markets, so has the level of supply and the number of enterprises competing for the same business.

This means that however you look at it – from a marketing or sales perspective – gaining and maintaining market share has become ever-more challenging. And market analysis with demographic projections indicate exponential growth in market competition.

Refocusing revenue generation

Given this rapid growth in competition in B2B markets, marketing and sales teams need to bring together and redirect their firepower in a more cohesive way, building an integrated marketing and sales system designed to turn contacts into qualified leads and cialis finally, to customers.

To achieve this is a massive cultural shift, and to make it happen, marketing and sales departments need to do some reciprocal navel-gazing in order to understand why their end-goals are the same – revenue generation – but their approaches are so different:

  • Marketing team project development is often long-term, and will typically include continuing brand development; in enterprises where digital marketing systems are well established the generation of qualified marketing leads is common, and often managed using marketing automation (MA) systems. Marketers work with both historical analysis and metrics with market projections to focus on increasing brand recognition, while scoring and nurturing leads for the long haul market growth using MA technologies.
  • Sales teams work in the here and now, and with greater immediacy as they work to meet monthly or quarterly key performance indicators (KPIs). Within this, individual salespeople will also seek opportunities to help solve a prospect’s equipment, supply or service issues to add the personal touch to their service that may tip the balance to a sale.
  • The disconnect is that the marketing team cannot see any of this sales activity, and none of the ongoing marketing activity is visible to sales people, so there is no cohesion. And if there was to be cohesion, it would require technology as well as cultural transition.

Strategy versus tactics

The traditional sales funnel process assumes a large number of contacts are filtered down into leads, then down to prospects, and cialis finally down to customers. But if this is the case in a traditional marketing and sales strategy, it is sub-optimal for two reasons:

Reason #1

Today, B2B customers have a tendency to educate themselves online before they consider purchase options and vendors, by making a close initial evaluation of products and services.

Reason #2

If this is the case, following a traditional marketing and sales approach means marketing remains in one silo and sales in another, in a market where now both teams need to work together to deliver the personalised communications prospects now expect.

Linear sales funnel optimisation

So what is now needed is a delineated, integrated marketing and sales strategy within an enterprise’s revenue generation organisational structure, offering a flat, linear organisation designed to play to, and deliver on, both marketing and sales team strengths.

Source: Marketo, Inc.

This delineated, integrated strategy means that at the top of the sales funnel the marketing team creates strong brand awareness and through continued MA activity, ensures your audience engages with your brand and as the relationship develops start to feel they can trust you.

Sales pick up the marketing baton

As this MA relationship management develops and is tracked, monitored and lead-scored, so there comes the optimum point at the middle of the sales funnel where the sales team needs to take the communications baton, and pick up the phone to this now engaged contact.

This is because the engaged individual, while interacting with your enterprise – and being lead-scored as such – may now either need to be moved along the sales funnel as a sales lead, or recycled further back up the funnel as a target for further nurturing.

Marketing Automation leads to human judgement

So, the sales team have now decided which sales leads move forward towards the bottom of the funnel, and which engaged individuals need to be recycled back for more nurturing by the marketing team, dependent on lead-score.

The sales team is also now responsible for converting the acquired sales leads into satisfied and loyal customers who are also ready to buy again at the next sales opportunity.

Optimisation through reciprocation

This is integrated marketing and sales: marketing delivered engaged, brand-aware prospects, and sales converted these individuals to customers at the optimum point in the sales funnel.

At this critical point in the sales funnel where the sales team has the option to recycle engaged individuals that are not ready to buy, so it is important that marketing has provided good enough sales leads for the sales team to deliver significant sales revenue performance.

Defining concrete definitions

Working out and aligning business language will be the single most critical element in integrating marketing and sales team thinking and the aligning to the primary business objective: revenue generation.

Aligning both marketing and sales teams to the same revenue goal is a critical first step in the journey, but the strategy for getting there needs to be defined by both teams to clarify three key elements of the matrix:

01. Lead scoring

Lead scoring is a system used in MA for ranking leads to establish their sales-readiness. Leads are scored based on the interest they have shown in your products and services, their current place in the buying cycle, and their fit with regard to your business. It helps companies know whether prospects need to be fast-tracked to sales or recycled back up the sales funnel and developed with further nurturing.

Lead scoring is critical in optimising revenue generation performance and your revenue cycle, and will deliver highly effective results if marketing and sales work together to define lead-scoring parameters.

02. Lead Generation definitions

A Marketing Qualified Lead (MQL) is a prospect that the marketing team has worked with, possibly using MA, and has lead-scored as a potential buyer. A Sales Accepted Lead (SAL) is a lead that the sales team is committed to seeking to convert, and a Sales Qualified Lead (SQL) is a prospect that the sales team thinks is ready or almost ready to buy.

When both teams agree what specifically qualifies as an MQL, SAL or SQL, they will then have the understanding, culture and cohesive approach that will deliver greater business efficiency and revenue generation performance.

03. Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs between marketing and sales teams need to be fully understood by both teams at each phase of the revenue cycle. For example, when marketing pass an MQL to the sales team, they will need to know how long the sales team will take as a maximum to make contact with that individual.

Conversely, if the sales team recycles a lead back further up the sales funnel, how long will it take the marketing team to respond, and what would be the next action?

Fast-track IMS

This process of changing business culture, integrating marketing and sales operations, creating a clear understanding of interdepartmental terminology and respective KPIs will rapidly evolve a culture of revenue generation rather that simplistic marketing and sales activity.

To get there does require specialist help and associated cost from a digital agency with expertise in MA systems such as Marketo or Hubspot, and customer relationship management (CRM) platform experience with Salesforce or Microsoft Dynamics.

But if you select the right agency, their team will be able to calculate this expenditure in time and money and determine timeframes to return on investment (ROI), meaning before you take the leap, you’ll know exactly where you’re going to land.

Working out and aligning business language will be the single most critical element in integrating marketing and sales team thinking and the aligning to the primary business objective: revenue generation.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Business to person marketing in the business to business space: does it work?

Business to person marketing in the business to business space: does it work?

The business to business (B2B) marketing community often claims that it’s a harder market to work than the business to consumer (B2C) space. Personally, I’ve never quite bought into this point of view, because in both cases there’s a common denominator: humanity.

That is to say, whether you’re communicating with a B2B or B2C audience, they’re all human beings and I’m sure would like to be treated that way. And if you follow the smart money, I think you’ll find the B2B focus is now on a very personalised business to person (B2P) approach.

The B2C-B2B crossover

If you look at the more advanced B2C digital marketing models, they have evolved to focus on their target audiences in a much more personalised way, because prospects and customers now don’t just hope for service with transparency, they expect it from brands.

And this B2B audience aren’t simply B2B prospects, because in their leisure time they are also B2C consumers who are used to being treated as valued, known customers whose wants and needs are understood and catered for in every B2C communication they receive. That’s B2P.

B2P and personalisation: how does it work?

B2P marketers spend a lot of time creating a clear profile of their prospects and customers (buyer personas) and developing websites with highly structured analytics systems, designed to report precisely what these personas search for and look at when they visit.

This process continually builds on and modifies these personas so that they always reflect the very latest prospect buying trends and behaviours so that all email communications, website landing pages and all other prospect communications are hyper-personalised.

This is what B2C customers get through B2P, so why can’t B2B marketing deliver this to customers too?

B2P: how can it work in the B2B space?

OK, so B2B marketers are not selling shampoo and at least if they are, it will be in industrial quantities. But does that mean B2B marketing has to be equally industrial, non-personalised and detached from B2B prospect and customer needs?

It doesn’t. By using the same techniques B2C marketers use to build buyer personas and website development processes to deliver accurate analytical data, B2B marketers can achieve the same level of marketing and sales success B2C marketers expect with B2P.

Remember, before they got into work this morning, your B2B target customer was actually a B2C consumer, being treated like a human being, probably through B2P, on a sophisticated B2C brand website; so to succeed, all you need to do is do the same.

Fast track to success

There’s only one difference that needs careful awareness when taking this B2P route in B2B marketing: you really aren’t selling shampoo, but something that may be of high value and high technology, and may require specialist marketing content to deliver sales using B2P.

But if you have an agile, open-minded digital agency, who truly understand your products, technologies and marketplace, switching channels from slow-burn B2B to fast-track B2P will deliver marketing return on investment (MROI) with loyal, engaged B2B customers, sooner.

This process continually builds on and modifies these personas so that they always reflect the very latest prospect buying trends and behaviours so that all email communications, website landing pages and all other prospect communications are hyper-personalised.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

B2B Influencer marketing: 5 tips on how to work it, and improve your market share

B2B Influencer marketing: 5 tips on how to work it, and improve your market share

Influencer marketing is not new. It is a relatively subtle but powerful form of marketing, and it is because of this apparent subtlety that many client-side B2B marketers dismiss it as probably ineffective. And that’s a serious misconception.

Who doesn’t want a select group of individuals including respected industry leaders, senior consultants, high-profile journalists, bloggers and industry analysts – people who influence your buyers’ decisions – to talk about and advocate their enterprise, products and services?

What does Influencer marketing look like?

As the title implies, Influencers are people who are high-profile experts and well respected in your industry and again, by definition are trusted in their opinions relating to your type of product or associated services.

Your potential customers will see them as beacons of wisdom in your sector and will likely follow their opinions.

By forming relationships with these high-profile Influencers and developing a situation where individuals will contribute content to your website, blog or other customer-facing communications, you have created a state where well known and respected industry advocates are promoting your enterprise, its products and services.

What will Influencer marketing deliver to my enterprise?

If you have chosen the right kind of high profile industry experts, developed the right kind of relationship with them and given them access to the interesting and useful product and service information they need to write industry sector content about these topics, then you have set the pathway.

And that means they will contribute industry-expert content about you and for you to publish on your website or, because this relationship is mutually beneficial, the information you have given them will form content in their own channels, such as their own website, blog or journals.

So, it is a perfect two-way street: you get industry-expert advocacy and they get industry insight and intelligence from you to create their own far-reaching content.

How do you develop relationships with Influencers?

Well, generally speaking these people aren’t listed under “I” in the phone book. Influencers are people who are well-known and respected within your industry sector and may be prominent industry consultants, engineers, journalists and bloggers or analysts.

Whatever else they are, they do need to be high-profile and respected enough to have a strong following and the respect of those you wish to communicate with and influence. Here are five points to consider when planning this route.

01. Indentifying marketplace expertise

Start by working out which prominent industry leaders, senior consultants, high-profile journalists, bloggers and industry analysts your potential customers will listen to, and therefore will be influenced by, and which of those Influencers you wish to target.

As a part of this process, talk to your sales teams and if possible your buyers themselves. Industry experts – AKA Influencers – will be present on LinkedIn and other social media. There are also various digital tools you can use to find them, or by entering key phrases into search can return these key individuals, too.

02. Prioritising Influencers

Once you have identified the Influencers you wish to collaborate with, draw up a list and prioritise them by who you think will have the most impact in your marketplace.

What you will find is some won’t be interested in you, and others when scrutinised closely will no longer be of interest to you.

When you have established your target list you need to build a relationship with those Influencers. The easiest way to do this is to engage with them by establishing occasional contact through commenting on their blog posts or connecting with them on social media such as LinkedIn.

03. Developing the relationship

Through this informal approach, you reach the point where you feel you can send them a personal email, making them aware you have been following them for a while by whatever means, and that you would like to introduce yourself and your enterprise.

You will need to work on this introductory email to ensure that it has impact, tells them what they want to hear and what is in it for them in any kind of collaboration with you, and your enterprise.

What’s in it for them should exclude money because you will have to declare this, and your enterprises’ credibility will evaporate when you do.

04. Making Influencer collaboration easy

If your choice of Influencers were good ones, you will have selected a group of very busy people, because to be a high-profile expert in any market requires a lot of work in terms of market research and communication, before you ever get to the self-promotion required to stay on top.

That means the quickest way to work with them in order to get what you need and to ensure these time-poor individuals remain attracted to the collaborative relationship is to offer possible sector topics, then draft outline material for their review and for them to shape and edit for you.

05. Keep the relationship fresh

Communication and feedback are key. So remember, when you post content contributed by your Influencer partner, be sure to thank them for their work and suggest to them that they share the content with their own audience. This will spread it way further than you can do alone.

Letting your new friend know how their content performed and what comments it received not only helps build the collaborative relationship but also helps Influencers gauge valuable market reaction which may point to other content opportunities as they evolve.

Influencer marketing has three very effective benefits to a B2B enterprise: it means your target audience hears about your enterprise from high-profile and trusted industry sources; your enterprise is seen to be aligned with industry thought-leaders, and the exposure is continuous, because as long as people are reading, they’re reading about you.

Your potential customers will see them as beacons of wisdom in your sector and will likely follow their opinions.

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom

Digital security: how client/agency relationships must change

Digital security: how client/agency relationships must change

There was a time when client/marketing agency relationships were reasonably fluid, and agency roster reviews would take place on regular one, two or three year intervals. But that all changed when digital took centre stage and customer databases grew.

This gradual evolution, from traditional to data-driven marketing means that the amount of data clients now store, and the personal nature of much of this information, means that under current and upcoming European Union (EU) laws, data security breaches carry big penalties.

Who is liable for data breaches?

The harsh reality is, that the owner of the data is the company that will be prosecuted and receive the financial penalty, and in the case of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), penalties are now confirmed at up to 4% of an enterprises’ total global turnover, or €20,000,000.

GDPR is now agreed among EU member states and while it will not come into force until early 2018, its influences can already be felt as data security and privacy law comes into sharper focus among EU authorities.

GDPR: gaining perspective

Preparing to meet the required levels of data security and protection is a little less straightforward than you might imagine. That is because one of the most critical weak points in your digital marketing workflow is likely to be out of your direct control: your digital marketing agency.

What is going to become important to you very quickly is your agency’s grasp of GDPR and its clear understanding of how these new and complex laws impact on not only them, but you. Because if things go wrong, it’s you who will be picking up the tab.

Digital agency security benchmarks

The critical issue is having confidence in your agency’s knowledge of EU data protection laws – things like how do we export data to the USA, or how do we transmit personal data? These are areas where, if handled incorrectly, large fines may be imposed.

To gain confidence in your digital agency, you need them to have a clear official international qualification. This should take the form of ISO certification to at least ISO 9001 certification for data management, and preferably ISO 27001 for data security.

ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 agency input

These ISO certifications should give you the confidence to rely on your agency’s advice on national and international data management and security, and means you can allow them to guide you through set-up and the day-to-day running of your data-driven marketing processes.

So, now your agency has taken on a completely new role.

Now, rather than fulfilling a purely subordinate role, they have evolved as partners, collaborating with you in data management and protection, as well as helping you navigate the complexities of digital marketing in this new regulatory environment.

Changing roles and perspectives

GDPR, ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 mean you will either want to find a new and more competent digital agency or completely change the way you work with your existing agency partner. And this will mean a complete change in the dynamic of the relationship for both parties.

Client-side, you will have to gain confidence in your agency and trust their advice on international data regulations, and your agency will need to step up and learn to work in a transparent collaborative partnership – still a rarity it seems, even in the 21st Century.

Securing agency relationships

But what is truly important in this new relationship is that it needs to endure, because both parties will be making a significant commitment to the relationship and in particular your chosen agency, who will always need to stay ahead of the legislative curve on your behalf.

This ongoing next-level client support and guidance places continuous demands on agency resources and means to serve you well they will need to fully understand you and your enterprise.

This requires a significant investment in relationship building for both parties, so placing your agency under a contract that fully reflects this new form of agency/client collaboration means you both have the security of a long-term relationship in a fast-changing world.

GDPR, ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 mean you will either want to find a new and more competent digital agency or completely change the way you work with your existing agency partner.

Do you know if your digital agency is damaging your brand?

Do you know if your digital agency is damaging your brand?

According to McKinsey & Co, in the five-year window from 2014 to 2019, global media spending will rise from US $1.6 trillion to a projected US $2.1 trillion, but what does this mean for those in-house marketing managers, tasked with maintaining competitive position?

Many of these marketers with digital responsibility came into the industry when digital was still in its infancy and not particularly mainstream, but now digital marketing channels are at the heart of marketing communications across the globe.

Client or agency – who has control?

And this creates an issue: if you aren’t educated in digital marketing, how can you be expected to manage these channels effectively? And if client-side marketers aren’t controlling these channels, exactly who is?

And therein lies the problem. The reality is that in many cases, it is the digital agency that has the most knowledge and expertise in digital channels, but this certainly doesn’t mean they have a true understanding of your products, services or even your brand to be successful.

Unseen brand damage

That lack of clear understanding means you may inadvertently sanction the use of techniques such as pop-ups, spam email, click-bait, poorly targeted mass display advertising campaigns and misleading native advertising that have no place associated to a quality brand like yours.

If you think this is far-fetched, look at the free websites of some regional and national newspapers, where, by the time all the advertisements, pre-rolls and pop-ups have loaded, you’ve lost interest in reading it and left. Which newspaper marketing manager wanted that?

Avoiding digital disaster

So, instead of positively communicating and promoting your brand, your lack of digital understanding and complete reliance on your digital agency may well be corroding your brand’s value in the eyes of your website visitors and target prospects without you ever knowing that it is happening.

This has nothing to do with your marketing competence, but is purely due to the limited knowledge of the techniques and options available across various digital channels, and how these might be appropriate or inappropriate for your brand values or brand strategy.

Digital education for senior marketers

What can you do? Well, the first thing is to admit that digital has moved on so quickly that your workflow schedule has not allowed you to remain fully up to speed on developments. To my mind, this is completely likely as your work as a manager is way beyond hands-on.

And how to fix it? There’s no time to go back to college, so fast-track help is required. This should be available via your agency if they have a collaborative philosophy of the kind we’ve built with our clients at Novacom.

How digital agencies can help educate clients – and help themselves

Because of the exponentially fast moving nature of the digital space, we not only educate on digital channels and techniques, but all the other things that are now becoming critical legally across the EU, such as data management and security via ISO 9001 and ISO 27001 certification.

So what’s in it for digital agencies? Well if we have given our clients a fast-track insight into digital marketing techniques and methodologies, then we are working in true collaboration with a marketing partner: someone who can share in-house insight and allow us to therefore deliver even greater marketing performance, and success.

And this creates an issue: if you aren’t educated in digital marketing, how can you be expected to manage these channels effectively?

written by Will Yates,
Client Services Director at Novacom