4 minute read

Re-appraisal Led To New Materials

Written by Mike Finn

“I think there is a trend in B2B websites towards style over content."

"There will be a beautiful picture on the homepage but after admiring it, you have to really dig to find what content there might be behind it. It might be a fabulous aesthetic experience but if I’m not in the mood for that, I’ll move on.”

Graeme Purdy is the chief executive of AIM-quoted innovation company Ilika plc - and he’s speaking on the back of root-and-branch re-appraisal of their own web presence.

The original game plan for Ilika was to develop new materials for products OEM wanted to bring to market. The new layer on top of that is that Ilika are taking what they are developing with battery technology and creating their own products.

Stereax is the first sold state battery designed for the specific needs of the internet for things and small, sensor-driven devices.

There’s big money attracted to this technology. Ilika have secured a number of partnerships with global companies in diverse sectors, including automotive, renewable energy and bioelectronics.

One example is an agreement with Galvani Bioelectronics, the UK-based R&D joint venture between Google’s life science company Verily and GlaxoSmithkline, set up with agreed funding of £540million over seven years.

“We are enabling disruptive products to be brought to market by innovative organisations,” explains Purdy. “The automotive sector is also going to be key. With more than 100 sensors in a modern car, the associated cabling is the third heaviest item after the engine and the chassis.

An autonomous vehicle will require some 1000 sensors and Ilika’s technology will enable them to function. In the bioelectronics sector, companies are developing miniature implants to treat patients by stimulating nerves electronically instead of using chemical drugs to treat conditions such as Parkinson’s Disease and arthritis.”

Once a month Ilika has a conference call meeting involving their technical marketing and PR consultants in the UK and US, together with Purdy and their product manager.

“In addition to reviewing our speaking engagements because that is what is important for our profile and positioning, communication has to be targeted to attract early adopters,” says Purdy.

 “I think companies can make assumptions about website content.

What we did was to look at whether our target audience looked at blogs and newsletters, or whether they wanted to spend time with video.

 It might be indicative of the age we live in but we found that fewer people read the white papers which take us an inordinate amount time to produce, but they were happy watching a two-minute video.

You can’t fight that; you just have to adapt your communication if you want the customer or prospect to spend time with it.

“Now we spend much more time crafting the script, rather like a playwright and a director would. We put in a lot of effort to make sure that what our people are saying comes across conversationally. The website still has detailed reference material, but as downloads.”

For a while, Ilika ‘gated’ their website but found that was a deterrent. “Now we just let people download if they want to,” says Purdy. “There’s nothing sensitive at a state secret level. If things progress, then that’s the time for an NDA approach.”

Engagement has increased since the change in approach, with visitors spending at least 20% more time on the website.

 “The majority come directly from a search or research rather than from social media,” observes Purdy. “We have identified what has a significant impact on our internet traffic - the real spikes come from product launches.”

At the monthly meeting, Ilika look at who have become followers, the re-tweets, and who has written about them. “We consider where we are rather than setting hard digital goals,” explains Purdy. “It’s about where we can improve performance and then seeing how that can be tracked. But the reality is that Ilika is not the type of business which will get the numbers which a retail brand will achieve. By comparison, we’re a connoisseurs pleasure really.

“I don’t think we are spending more time on communication in the digital age compared to before, but technology does mean we can achieve more from it thanks to analytics.

They used to be that big debate about whether advertising works, but now, instead of being influenced by anecdotal evidence, companies can measure response precisely and tie that in with conversion rates through CRM.”

Purdy makes the point that digital communication means that everyone in a company can contribute with blogs, Linkedin, and other social media; it isn’t just the function of marketing any more.

“Of course a company needs to make sure what is being said is accurate before it has been re-tweeted or downloaded,” he adds.

There is also more opportunity to leverage goodwill. “Some companies encourage their customers to talk about their relationship, while others are paranoid about having any reference to them on their website,” Purdy observes. “We try to put up joint material we have crafted with the customer.

“It might be an interview, or a discussion, but the collaboration means that our web content is also serving to strengthen our customer relationships.”

“Everything moves more quickly because of technology,” he believes. “It means that a company won’t have a unique message for very long. If a competitor sees it is working, they’ll find a way of copying it, so we have to be constantly agile.

“It boils down to knowing who is going to be interested in your message and finding the right channels to reach those people and identifying how they are going to engage with you.

Everyone is faced with a barrage of information which they will never be able to totally digest properly, which is why focus is important or you’ll be screened out.”