What role in customer engagement do you think human beings will play in an increasingly digital buyer journey?
I have 15 years experience of working in SaaS, and a common thread in all the value propositions I've worked with has been that the service or experience is just as important as the software itself.
Having a dedicated account manager, access to UK-based phone support and things like one-to-one training from people with relevant sector experience all adds reassurance to the B2B buyer.
Having human touch points throughout the buyer’s journey is particularly critical, from early consideration to onboarding and beyond. That said, the customer must have the opportunity to decide how they want to engage with the company. During the pandemic people craved more human contact because we spent so much time in forced isolation, reducing our opportunities to interact - but people wanted it on their own terms.
As a marketing leader what does a digital mindset mean to you?
A few years ago people would identify themselves as working in content marketing - which begs the question, isn’t all content a form of marketing? I think it's the same today when we say we’re working in digital marketing - all marketing includes digital. Since the start of the pandemic, digital has been central to all marketing activity, with budgets and resources shifting from in-person events and out of home advertising to webinars and programmatic advertising. As a SaaS company, digital is at the core of our business, and I think this helped us continue to deliver during Covid.
I believe that a digital mindset means seeing every touchpoint as part of one integrated message. Recently we launched an acquisition campaign focusing on the strength of our mobile app. When we briefed the creative team, we had to think beyond the ad formats which would draw people in, to every touchpoint they would have with us along the journey. It’s about ensuring that our message was consistent and persistent across email, our website and social channels, webinars and other digital events, and even the digital collateral that our sales team may use in their conversations.
It’s a no-brainer to say the importance of digital in marketing will only increase, as digital events grow in frequency and importance. People want a steady stream of content and intelligence, which is more than we expected and more than we have seen in the past. Webinars are now a staple in how we serve our customers.
We are working on how we show our customers the right thing at the right time, using automation and segmentation. It’s not happening yet on an individual customer basis but we’re starting to explore intent to understand the behaviour of potential buyers, and we’re encouraging more engagement throughout that journey. I think that pre-purchase intent is an interesting area that is still underexplored.
I believe that a digital mindset means seeing every touchpoint as part of one integrated message.
The more we can track and report on a buyer's digital journey, the more opportunity we have to prioritise sales efforts.
How important is it for your organisation to track a buyer's digital activity, before proactively trying to market or sell to them over the phone?
Our acquisition and ISR teams have worked really closely to optimise how and when we pick up the phone to call a prospect, using end-to-end reporting and lead scoring to guide them.
We needed to understand what was and wasn't working, not only so we could spend our advertising budget where the ROI was best, but also so that we could identify prospects who might benefit from tailored messaging or an automated nurture journey to help them move forward to a buying decision.
Ensuring that every touchpoint and engagement is identified and weighted, helps not only to move a prospect towards a call, but also ensures that the ISR has a clear picture of that person's journey so far so they can identify how we can best help them.
Ultimately, by spotting patterns in the steps that groups of prospects take before you capture them as a lead, and cross referencing with the anecdotal feedback from the sales team on calls they've been passed so far, you can work out when someone might be ready for a conversation, and when they might still be gathering information. The more we can track and report on a buyer's digital journey, the more opportunity we have to prioritise sales efforts.
How confident are you that you know the size of your addressable market? And what can you do to get a clearer idea of it?
It's really tough. One of the starting points to understanding the potential in the accountancy space is to look at SIC codes. However, this doesn't give the full picture because there are so many smaller firms and individuals, particularly in bookkeeping, who are a perfect fit for us, but aren't required to register.
For that reason, we use this as a starting point, but overlay other data sources such as industry bodies and media partners to ensure we're getting the clearest possible picture. It’s critical that we find data on the businesses that go under the radar, and I think that's become an even greater challenge because of the number of people who have taken on side hustles during the pandemic. How does anyone know that they're there?
We use this as a starting point, but overlay other data sources such as industry bodies and media partners to ensure we're getting the clearest possible picture.
FreeAgent is a cloud accounting software company that specialises in cloud accounting services for smaller businesses. Typically, the company’s customers have fewer than 10 employees.