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  • Julie Cooper

How tech companies can stand out in the UK

Driving business growth is a challenge in any landscape, much less one completely transformed by an unprecedented pandemic. However, by embracing digital, empowering their people and remaining innovative and agile, organisations across the world have not only navigated the storm – they’ve emerged stronger on the other side of it.

In the U.K., it’s safe to say the challenges have been many. On top of COVID, the country also withdrew from the European Union, and the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) — the world’s strongest set of data protection rules — has generated mass confusion for organisations across the spectrum with hard-to-follow rules and regulations.

In this exciting episode of AZK Meets, our Founder and Managing Director Azadeh Williams dives into these challenges and more with Andy Gladwin, Head of Enterprise Partnerships and Mobile GTM at CM Group, against a stunning London backdrop. From the importance of localisation, differentiating in a fiercely competitive ad tech and martech landscape and building trust to overcome challenges, it’s all unpacked right here.

Driving growth in the U.K.

According to a Tech Nation report, the U.K. is proving attractive to investment, with overseas investment increasing from 50% in 2016 to 63% in 2020. Impact tech investment is fast growing in the U.K. too, increasing 160% since 2018 when compared to the U.S., where it grew 15% during the same period.

Keen to get in on this growth with a U.K. expansion of your own? Then familiarise yourself with these three things, Gladwin says. “Number one, the U.K. is a very sophisticated and mature market when you look at digital marketing. Driving in today, I heard a great slogan: ‘You need to be large enough to cope and small enough to care.’

“That really applies in our market where you need to have the scale and sophistication of technology. But you also have to be small enough so customers don’t become numbers,” Gladwin explains.

How to grow a B2B tech business in the U.K. at a glance:

  1. Be large enough to cope but small enough to care: You need to have the scale and sophistication of technology, but you also must be small enough whereby customers don’t become numbers.

  2. Go truly local: Empower your team on the ground to provide the right resources and create relationships with local clients rather than trying to handle everything remotely.

  3. Know the British consumer: The U.K. has witnessed a number of macro-environmental changes with GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the pandemic and Brexit to name a few. If you’re going to succeed in the U.K., you need to have local data centres, and you need to be able to provide and cater to local consumers

The second part, he says, requires going truly local. “Empower your team on the ground to provide the right resources and create relationships with local clients rather than trying to do things remotely, which doesn’t resonate in the market,” he points out.

And finally, Gladwin shares that it’s all about gaining a 360-degree view and understanding of the British consumer. “There have been a number of macro-environmental changes — GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), the pandemic and Brexit to name a few.

“If you’re going to succeed in the U.K., then you need to have local data centres. Beyond compliance, the commercials must also be tailored to the local market conditions and ensured that they resonate. In addition to this, organisations need to be able to provide and cater to local consumers' behaviours, which differ from other regions. The list goes on, but localisation is absolutely key to success,” he insists.

Standing out in a saturated ad tech and martech space

The ad tech and martech landscape is fiercely competitive. The latest supergraphic from Chiefmartec and MartechTribe highlights that there are now a whopping 9,932 vendors across 49 categories. For reference, there were only 150 on the original edition in 2011. That's a growth rate of 5,233% across a 10-year period!

So, how can a brand get noticed? What does it take? In a word, relevance. “At CM Group, we’re driving market relevance, providing a solution that resonates,” Gladwin says. “If you look at the British consumer, they are data aware, data secure and data conscious.

“With that, old methodologies do not work like they did before. Look at acquisition. You need to have a one-to-one, direct and consensual relationship. Once you have that, start to gain zero-party data and understand their preferences so you can provide personal, relevant and contextual experiences and engagements with them, which is what they expect. And consumers also expect this to be the same across all channels.”

That’s just the first part, Gladwin shares. “When you look at loyalty, there’s such an emphasis on it in the marketplace right now. Extending customer lifetime value has become a differentiation point for us, considering retention costs a fifth of acquiring new customers,” he reveals.

Another strong point to note is the power of an organisation’s workforce in the bid to differentiate. “It’s important to recruit well,” Gladwin says. “For us, the DNA of the CM Group is passion. We have people who are passionate, value-orientated and customer-centric.

“Others in the market may think that we over-invest in this; but to us, it’s vital to have lots of personnel to ensure the success of the clients we work with.”

Overcoming challenges through localisation

Vendors face many challenges in the U.K. market. But, like anything, with the right tools, strategies and determination, they can be overcome. “For us, we have incredible technology, but one size does not fit all,” Gladwin says. “Different clients have different needs. Some may be huge brands without overly sophisticated or mature marketing needs. And others might be very small brands that are very advanced in that space.

“We’re fortunate to be part of the CM Group where we have the likes of Selligent, Sailthru and Campaign Monitor among our portfolio who are able to cater to clients depending on their size and direct requirements.

“Then, as they grow, we can establish new solutions across the portfolio to cater to those needs,” he continues. “Because the last thing you want to do is have clients open a walnut with a sledgehammer or, conversely, to be compromising on customer relationships and experience based on the technology that sits behind them. That’s a challenge we’re fortunate to be able to get around.”

Localisation is another challenge for global brands, Gladwin says. “Many U.K. companies are international and operating across many markets. For success, you need to be globally localised, taking care through language, compliance and other fields,” he shares.

The U.K. is a very fast-paced market, and Gladwin says that poses another challenge. “Knowing the right use case and demographic that is going to serve value is key,” he says. “But with a myriad of channels and options, it can sometimes be disorientating for our clients. So it’s something that we place an emphasis on. We help them choose and then apply the best use of our solution. This positions them at the forefront of these trends, delivering impactful communications to their customers.”

Build trust and drive results

Trust is a funny thing; it can take years to build and only moments to lose. But it’s absolutely vital for any successful company to build. More than positioning your organisation as a reputable and worthy entity in a new landscape, building trust can also positively impact your bottom line.

“A key component of trust is understanding customers and treating them all individually. There’s no such thing as two of the same customer,” Gladwin confirms.

We spend a lot of time learning and understanding its customers, deciphering, for instance, why they’re sending emails, why they aren’t sending text messages or push notifications for big business drivers and what their success metrics are to name a few.

“We want to know how we can best work together as a true partnership to try and unlock those metrics and then exceed our customers’ expectations,” he shares. “That partnership and understanding are really important.”

After that, and it may sound surprising, but Gladwin reveals that trust also comes as a result of challenging their customers. “We are very fortunate with the customer base we have, which has significantly exposed us to what resonates, what doesn’t, what drives results and what might be noise.

“With this insight, we are able to challenge our customers, saying, ‘We understand your strategies, but we also think there could be other ways of doing that to drive bigger results.’ That’s how we drive trust and provide results in our relationships.”

Authored by Julie Cooper, Senior Content and Communications Specialist at AZK Media.

This article was also featured in LBB, one of the world's leading marketing publications.

At AZK Media, we thrive in helping technology companies break into new and emerging regions like APAC and UK/EMEA. To discover how we can help drive growth for your business, contact us. We look forward to discussing your expansion goals with you.


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