We speak to Matt Simpson, the managing director of Candyspace, an agency that designs, builds and optimises websites and apps for clients including ITV, Rolls-Royce, Mazda and Mars. He started his career as a journalist and is the author of a book about his lifelong passion, Leyton Orient. He answers our questions about the future of marketing and media as part of a series of articles produced in association with New Statesman Media Group’s AI-driven content marketing solution Lead Monitor.
What’s been your proudest achievement in your current role?
I’m really proud of the work Candyspace does on the ITV Hub, ITV’s video-on-demand platform. Obviously competition in the TV market is fierce with the likes of Netflix, Amazon Prime and Disney+, but the ongoing enhancements we make to the ITV Hub experience allow it to stand out, and it was great to see record streaming audiences during Euro2020. Being locked down for so many months over the last year, TV has been a great comfort – I think we all need a bit of Love Island in these times!
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What media channels do you see as most important and best value when it comes to marketing spend and activity?
For me it’s less about the channel choice – clearly different channels offer different value depending on the objectives and target audience – but rather the overall experience you create for customers and prospective customers across those channels.
Customers now demand seamless, personalised experiences wherever and whenever they’re interacting with a brand, and businesses need to be able to deliver on that or be left behind.
What is the key difference between B2B and B2C marketing?
B2B marketers have not invested in customer experience at the same pace as their B2C counterparts – but that needs to change very fast. The excuse has been that B2B sales are more complex, with decisions made by multiple stakeholders and specific requirements around service levels, legals, tax and so on.
But all the evidence shows that the humans making B2B buying decisions are now demanding exactly the same sort of superlative customer experiences from B2B businesses in their professional lives as they do from B2C brands in a personal capacity – and will switch vendors to get that. B2B businesses need to put experience front and centre of their marketing activities.
What for you is the key to any successful marketing campaign – what actually makes a ‘good lead’?
I think the key to successful marketing is fusing insight, creativity and technology to deliver something relevant and valuable to individual customers at the right time and the right place. That’s obviously easier said than done!
It has to start with a deep understanding of customer demand – what do they need, when, and how can your business best be of value to them? That requires a human-centred approach to design and UX; smart use of data to drive the decision-making; and the right technology choices to deliver at scale.
It’s something that newer, digitally-native businesses are instinctively better at but more traditional businesses are fighting back. There have been some great innovations in the FMCG sector, for example, and at Candyspace we’re proud to be creating an AI-driven mobile app on behalf of Mars to help pet owners monitor the health of their dogs.
How important is technology in modern marketing?
Thanks to rapid advances in technology, marketers now have incredible power at their fingertips – with increasingly sophisticated marketing automation and digital experience platforms, along with experimentation and product analytics tools whose capabilities are way beyond what was possible even a couple of years ago.
The challenge for marketers is to harness the full power of these technologies – and evidence shows that often businesses are only using a fraction of the capabilities available to them.
Technology should be an enabler for marketers – the art remains in bringing a brand to life through the technology and using it to connect with customers in a meaningful way.
What are the biggest pain points in a marketing campaign?
Being able to use data effectively. Businesses now have access to more data – particularly first-party customer data – than they ever have done. But harnessing that data and turning it into insight requires investment and probably some pretty heavy back-end engineering. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, but a test-and-learn approach to campaigns – always grounded in insight around customer demand and business need – is likely to prove more effective than going in semi-blind with a big-bang approach.
And finally, if you could ask your peers for one piece of advice or help, what would it be?
Do you know an algorithm that can help Leyton Orient get promoted this season?