Live Client — iBASEt Corporation
iBASEt Corporation was founded in 1986 by Amrik Singh Poonian, and is today a $30M software company with sales offices in Toulouse, France; Detroit, Michigan; St. Louis, Missouri and at headquarters in Foothill Ranch, California. The company currently has 360 employees worldwide with 70 developers in India, and the majority of employees in the United States (iBASEt, 2015). The company is a leader in the development, sales and service of manufacturing execution system (MES), maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) and supplier quality assurance (SQA) (iBASEt, 2015). Despite being a very small firm by enterprise software standards, iBASEt has been able to attract and keep many of the world’s most prestigious aerospace and defense firms including Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Parker Aerospace, the United Space Alliance, Astrium French Aerospace, Airbus, L3 Communications and many others (iBASEt, 2015). Despite the company being public, their relatively open approach to reporting results and sales have made it relatively easy to calculate their sales per employee of approximately $120,000, which is at the median level of competitors in their specific market of enterprise software. The company has a very low debt ratio, further signaling tight fiscal controls internally. All of these factors point to a very tightly managed digital marketing communications and marketing campaign strategy budget, which is exemplified in the results of this analysis. What the client has been able to achieve despite budget constraints illustrates what’s possible with Cloud-based marketing automation applications that align quickly with how companies choose to operate over the long-term (Rowley, 2008). The heavy reliance on analytics has provided the marketing department with the essential insights need to continually seek new funding of digital marketing campaigns that are multichannel in scope. The reliance on analytics in conjunction with digital analytics has set the foundation for a very rapid ascent of content-driven marketing strategies in business-to-business (B2B) marketing (Geraghty, 2011) that continues accelerating today.
What makes this clients’ digital marketing strategies particularly interesting is how engineering-centric the culture of the company is, and how it has often been challenged to create scalable, long-term digital marketing strategies in the past. Based on interviews with this clients’ Vice President of Marketing, the marketing departments’ reliance on HubSpot marketing HubSpot integration reporting delivered within Salesforce are rapidly changing the nature of marketing within the firm. The Marketing VP also mentioned how useful analytics are in defining the goals, objectives and direction of marketing clearly to engineering teams that dominate the company. In defining the value proposition of marketing, the Marketing VP at iBASEt mentioned that the first objective is to use digital content to drive greater awareness and dominance of the iBASEt brand across keyword searches on Bing, Google, Yahoo and other search engines. The secondary goal is to define marketing campaigns and strategies across the majority of the website, and white papers, in addition to advanced videos that can help prospects see the deep value that iBASEt delivers. The combined use of a wide variety of digital channels has proven to be more effective in attracting, selling and serving B2B prospective clients (Freundt, Hillenbrand, Lehmann, 2013). iBASEt balances these digital strategies with just a few offline events including tradeshows, as the digital or online strategies are inherently more measurable and therefore can be improved much faster than tradeshows that often have very long planning horizons, high costs, and inherently lack the ability to track performance of (Hadjikhani, LaPlaca, 2013). Analytics are the foundation of the digital marketing campaigns at iBASEt and where possible with the cooperation of the Vice President, Marketing and his staff, they results are presented in this analysis.
In August, 2014 iBASEt completely revamped its website, choosing to standardize on the WordPress platform for its ease of customization. At the same time, HubSpot was added in as the inbound marketing system. Both the website and the cloud-based HubSpot content marketing system are integrated with Salesforce, as is evident from the structure and URLs of following landing page for a recent e-book the client offered. Please see Figure 1 for an example of a recent iBASEt landing page.
Figure 1: Recent iBASEt landing page (source: www. ibaset.com)
The inclusion of offers that are gated by landing pages are often debated in terms of their effectiveness (Royle, Laing, 2014). One theory of content marketing strategy is to provide prospects with unlimited access to content and allow as many downloads as possible, with the propagation of content being the primary priority (Singh, Gordon, Purchase, 2007). Countering this approach or strategy to content marketing is the belief that all valuable content needs to be gated and used to drive active prospects (Latusek, 2010). The belief that only the most qualified will opt in for the specific downloadable assets is often argued from the standpoint of the relative time and cost associated with producing each content item (Hadjikhani, LaPlaca, 2013). This debate is further exacerbated in B2B marketing where thought leadership and the continual sharing of information to specific personas or groups and audiences of potential customers is the most critical focus that marketers concentrate on, especially in attempting to create their own unique B2B marketing brand (Gagnon, 2014). This debate is very salient for the client, iBASEt, as their sales cycles are exceptionally long and often require an intensive amount of content to generate interest, trust and eventually the opportunity to demonstrate the application to a prospect’s engineering team. In evaluating the following four web pages it is essential to keep the context of a very engineering-centric culture needing to clearly and convincingly communicate the value their software delivers:
First Page: Supplier Quality Management (http://www.ibaset.com/products/supplier-quality-management/) — This page is critical to the future of the company yet it has a very bland “hero” image or branding image across the top, and also has very generic-looking images down the remainder of the site. There isn’t a focus on using HubSpot as effectively as possible on each page as well; there are for instance no recent e-books or other informational content shown on this specific page. From the many secondary research sources used for evaluating the company, it’s clear that Supplier Quality Management (SQM) is a core future focus of the company and essential for their cloud-based product development strategy as well (iBASEt, 2015). Yet this page offers little in the way of any compelling content and has some very static, boring images as well. Figure 2 provides an overview of the page:
Figure 2: iBASEt Supplier Quality Management web page
(Source: www. ibaset.com)
Recommendations for this page include the following. First, the images need to be replaced and made more aligned with the aerospace and defense markets the company sells into. Second, there needs to be more focus on how to integrate social media into this page and all others included in this analysis. While traditional marketers are often quick to say that social media including LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and others aren’t important to the overall marketing strategies of a B2B companies, research shows that every one of these social networks makes a contribution to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) of a given blog post or content piece, and also appeals to the current generation of engineering managers and students just transitioning into the workforce (Debi, Sharma, 2013).
Second Page: Medical Products (http://www.ibaset.com/industries/medical-devices/) — This page is also critical for the future success of the company as the CEO and President have often both mentioned that medical product’s is essential for the growth of iBASEt into tangential markets (iBASEt, 2015). To view this page please see Figure 3. The trouble with this page is that it looks unfinished and has no real integration into the existing marketing strategies, all of which are heavily focused on product quality and cost of quality data for aerospace and defense manufacturers. The design of this webpage is too generic to be of value to any marketing strategy as there is again no strong call to action (CTA) to drive prospects to opt in and download a white paper from HubSpot.
Figure 3: iBASEt Medical Devices Industry web page
(Source: www. ibaset.com)
The medical device industry page is also still using generic icons, which further underscore the nascent nature of this page’s development. Clearly the client needs to put more time into defining the overall structure of the page, and urgently needs more compelling CTAs to drive content downloads. One of the most fundamentally critical aspects of any content marketing program is to create an effective strategy for enabling downloads while at the same balancing the appearance and balance of a website’s design (Iyer, 2002). There is also no customer references on this page as well, which the client has a wealth of in the aerospace and defense industry. What’s needed is more of a focus on how to make this page as strong and unique as the ones on aerospace and defense and industrial equipment.
Third Page: Library (http://www.ibaset.com/library/) — Rudimentary in its structure and lacking any differentiated images or uniqueness, the Library page is another that lacks energy and has a very templated look to it. There are no active color images and the entire structure is very block-like. Simple to navigate yet boring to look at, the Library is functionally effective. It lacks personality and needs to be infused with an entirely new approach to presenting the valuable content it contains. Figure 4, iBASEt Library shows the screen form the website.
Figure 4: iBASEt Library
(Source: www. ibaset.com)
Additional recommendations for the page include having a compelling CTA graphic from HubSpot on the top of the page to drive more potential sales leads, a more effective approach to representing each of the specific icons so they are consistent with branding yet also communicate energy and excitement for the brand. Finally there is no visual representation of customer logos on this screen and worse yet, no pictures of them at all. In defining more effective marketing strategies it’s imperative to remember that B2B marketing is driven by people purchasing from each other, not from corporations (Gummesson, 2014). The lack of people-based visuals on this page, combined with the lack of HubSpot CTAs, make it a page that needs urgent redesign.
Fourth Page: Education (http://www.ibaset.com/services/education/) – One of the most generic-looking pages on the entire iBASEt website, the Education page also has no images of customers, no logos, and worst of all, no CTA to link traffic arriving here to HubSpot to drive more leads. It also lacks any digital branding apart from the logo. Education is a significant profit center for iBASEt (iBASEt, 2015) yet this page has no customer success stories of how their operations have been improved as a result of greater insights gained from the programs listed here. Figure 5, Education page, shows the page, which is among the most generic on the iBASEt site.
Figure 5: iBASEt Education page
(Source: www. ibaset.com)
In conclusion, the Education page lacks an identity and has defaulted to a template appearance is ineffective in attracting and selling customers and prospects on the many programs iBASEt delivers. While iBASEt has videos of customers mentioning how effective their training programs, none are on this page. In conclusion, this page needs to be made more reflective of the current successes the company is having in selling its services and also provide testimonials regarding these learning programs’ value.
Assessment of Digital Marketing Campaign
Currently the client is running a multichannel-based e-book campaign titled Five Strategies for Improving Enterprise Quality Management. The Call to Action (CTA) in HubSpot is the e-book shown in Figure 6. This e-book is based on a series of internal studies the company has done of their leading aerospace and defense customers, who are the largest percentage of maintenance revenue today (iBASEt, 2015).
Figure 6: E-book For Five Strategies for Improving Enterprise Quality Management campaign
(Source: www. ibaset.com)
iBASEt initially launched a HubSpot campaign to over 12,000 contacts the company has it its databases, in addition to creating a blog post, landing page, and having the sales team post the e-book’s CTA page across the many social networks many of them are on. The e-book was also distributed to key influencers including analysts, journalists and reporters with all key industry publications. The net result shows potential to drive entirely new leads for the company.
The campaign, while executed thoroughly and on time by a small staff, lacks a unified branding message. The models and theories from modules presented in class underscore the need to insure credibility and trust are engrained into every facet of a multichannel-based digital campaign (Gagnon, 2014). The campaign also lacks a consistency of focus on customer benefits, with the e-book speaking more in terms of features, not benefits. Finally, the e-book is not presented within the context of persona-based requirements and needs, and fails to clearly define the specific market audiences it is intended for. What’s needed is greater clarification on how this specific content item will be used for driving sales cycles forward in the future. It lacks the contextual definition it needs to succeed, and as a result will perform just based on its title and the relative interest in that alone, not the full contextual value it could deliver to a marketing strategy.
Analysis of Digital Marketing Campaign Planning
iBASEt faces competitors who are significantly larger than they are, with their primary competitor being Dassault Systems’ Apriso product line. The timing of this specific campaign is meant to counteract recent new product introductions by Apriso and their quality management initiatives at the enterprise level, specifically focusing on how to improve overall shop floor performance. This campaign is also meant to protect the iBASEt customer base from a new program launched by Apriso to capture older iBASEt accounts whose maintenance for quality management systems is coming due. The campaign is as much a defensive strategy as one to find entirely new prospects as well.
Digital methods used included direct e-mail from HubSpot, social media posts, direct mail from individual sales representatives, and blog posts and landing pages on the website. Of all these approaches, the most critical was the HubSpot direct e-mail campaign as each of these prospects had opted in to a communication from iBASEt in the past and are expecting to hear the latest information from the company. The HubSpot direct e-mail campaign is also the most important from an analytics and traceability standpoint of evaluating overall strategy performance. The second-most valuable digital marketing method used was the blog posts and landing pages of the site. These are by nature static and don’t provide as much activity as the e-mail blasts. Finally the inside sales teams are working on the leads generated from the campaign and looking at how they can be turned into pipeline prospects.
Target Audience Analysis
iBASEt has a very complex sales cycle as evidenced by the limited financials they provide and the relative churn of sales persons over time (iBASEt, 2015). Selling MES, MRO and SQA software is exceptionally difficult and time-consuming hence the rapid churn in their sales teams. One of the most valuable aspects of their digital marketing strategy however is the focus on personas or key members of the buying process. In B2B marketing, defining the sales cycle by roles provides greater accuracy and focus to each specific element of content produced (Freundt, Hillenbrand, Lehmann, 2013). Figure 7 provides an analysis of each of the eight members of the buying process in the iBASEt buying process. Their critical success factors are also mentioned alongside their titles. This was obtained through a series of analyses completed of their marketing strategies and interviews with the company’s senior management. What emerges from this analysis is the need to have a balanced, thoroughly defined series of strategies for driving greater performance from lead generation and customer retention strategies.
Figure 7: Personas for the e-book campaign
(Source: www. ibaset.com)
Challenges iBASEt Encountered in Running the Campaign
iBASEt has a small marketing team and the greatest challenge is like the one profiled in this paper completed. Often the marketing team will need to work over weekends to get their campaigns out. There is also the challenge if having one HubSpot expert on staff, and she is often required to complete multiple projects that support sales efforts as well. In addition to these time and resource constraints, there is also the challenge of getting its most loyal prospects in HubSpot to opt in and download the e-book to further their lead score. Despite these challenges, iBASEt continues to gain sales and expand in the United States and France.
Measuring Campaign Performance
Based on interviews with the clients, it’s evident that the company uses Google Analytics, HubSpot Analytics and Salesforce reporting to evaluate marketing programs. Of these three, Salesforce Analytics is the aggregation point, providing a consolidated view of all lead generation activity.
The specific HubSpot campaign that is the basis of this paper’s analysis is shown in Figure 8, eBook Campaign Analysis. This graphic provides insights into how many e-mails were send, delivered and the click rate (6.9%) which is considered average for a campaign of this size. The HubSpot analytics also shows that 7% of all prospects who received the e-mail also clicked to open the initial e-mail. The e-mail image is shown in the left side of the graphic in figure 8. This data also shows the need for creating a more attractive e-book that will drive greater activity across the prospect base of iBASEt.
Figure 8: eBook Campaign Analysis
iBASEt also has an integrated reporting system that takes HubSpot activity and integrates it with Salesforce data, providing an aggregated view of all sales activity. While the initial e-book has not been as successful overall, the company continues to generate sales leads as shown in Figure 9 to the left.
Figure 9: Salesforce Lead Analysis
Performance Evaluation of the Campaign
In conclusion the campaign met the minimum levels of performance overall, yet didn’t deliver exceptional performance as programs in the past had done. As this specific campaign was oriented towards defining the iBASEt customer base, its value for prospects was secondary. Most likely prospects could see beyond that, and as a result did not opt in and download the e-book. The future strategies focused on Manufacturing Execution Systems (MES) and their applicability in complex manufacturing will most likely perform better. The orchestration of all digital channels and marketing programs delivered scalable results however, showing iBASEt marketing has the potential to significantly grow lead generation with the right selection of content.
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