Gary Flood asks Peter Simmonds all about what his company does and how that helps CIOs and CEOs
What does your company do and how can it help CIOs?
We help CIOs and CEOs of organisations get online and be much more effective at doing business there. We do that in a number of way, from helping drive traffic to their websites, to help convert that traffic into actual business for them, we have an ecommerce platform that can help drive those transactions and we have a very effective email marketing system to help them resell and upsell to those clients.
So it's a bog-standard email list engine?
Well, no. A lot of companies actually get email marketing very wrong, we argue. Email is a fantastic sales tool for existing clients - but it's actually terrible for getting new ones. Email is a client retention tool, not a client acquisition tool, and for all the cheap buying-in of lists that people do and cheap campaigning that they think is value for money if they get a 1% conversion rate - well, not really. If you contact people who haven't heard from you before they overwhelmingly will think it's spam and won't be inclined to think you have anything relevant for them. It can actually end up damaging your brand.
That goes against the accepted wisdom somewhat. What are you saying is better?
I'd say we are our own best case study for doing this smarter. We have worked very, very hard on getting well placed on Google, both by natural and paid for search and we have a range of websites that are constantly tested and engineered to attract and retain customer interest, with multiple call-to-actions to totally maximise our conversion rates. I work very closely with my CIO to constantly tweak this and drop what isn't working any more. As a result, we get about 1,200 new prospects coming to us every month.
I'm still sceptical - what proof do you have in terms of numbers or client wins?
We are listed on the PLUS exchange, which is a junior stock market, and our last full-year results last June saw us grow revenues 90% and profits around the same.
With respect - that could mean you sold £1.90 instead of £1.00.
In this case, that was sales going up from £2.4m to £4.7m.
That's very impressive in this market. Where are you with clients?
We work with a wide range of at the moment predominantly UK organisations, including EDF Energy, DHL on a worldwide basis, Nationwide Building Society and Hallmark. They use our platforms for a range of communications and email and viral marketing work to customers and partners. We also see great potential in the search engine optimisation side of our business following our acquisition of Netcallidus this May 2010. We started as a regular Web design company back in 2002 and were asked by a division of the BBC to help it better communicate with readers of its magazines like Good Food and Top Gear and that led to the creation of dotMailer, our core email marketing platform, and we have been building on that expertise ever since.
Why are customers so interested in a product like yours, do you think?
I think the days of explosive growth in the wider economy is behind us and won't come back for some time. As a result, I think organisations are looking very, very closely at value for money and return on investment on every pound they need to spend on customer contact and their marketing activities. The great thing about email and online marketing as it's very simple to track that ROI to a very precise level. So firms like us that have spent so long getting to understand this are well placed, I believe.