Visma Software Oy supplies ERP and financial management software as on-premise and SaaS products. Milla Ikonen took over the reigns of the company’s marketing operations in 2016. These operations are measured in sales qualified leads, defined in collaboration with the company’s management and sales team. According to Ikonen, the company’s marketing already had much to recommend it, and its straightforwardness might even have seemed attractive.

‘We had many of the right elements in place but they weren’t used in the right way: we had plenty of content and we talked about carrying out content marketing, but really the activities had all the hallmarks of outbound marketing: Individual campaigns, with the focus on the product rather than on the content, and short-term operations where results could be seen straightaway. We had no long-term goals and the measures were not evaluated or analysed properly. If it seemed that our marketing was failing to generate leads, we went into panic mode and sent mass emails.

‘I thought we had to step up our game and shift from ineffective mass emails to targeted, controlled and automated marketing. Also, in anticipation of the new General Data Protection Regulation, we wanted to stop mass emails altogether and make the switch to systematic long-term marketing. I believed we had to gain a better understanding of our customers, a view that our marketing team endorsed. I realised that while it was being implemented, the reform might put a dent in the number of leads we generated, but it was something we had to do,’ explains Ikonen.

‘We had prepared some preliminary definitions of our buyer personas but we realised we needed to put flesh on the bones. We also decided to compile the existing content elements and those to be created in the future in a single, easy-to-manage location.

We built a marketing programme that is based on buyer personas and centred on content.At its heart, the programme has a content hub, Visma Suunta, which offers dynamic content for various target groups, with customer data used to deduce their needs.’

According to Ikonen, the strengths of the company’s marketing lie in its top-notch team consisting of members whose skills complement one another and who have a strong expertise in analytics and marketing automation.

‘Our expectations for 2016, when the project was underway, were moderate, but we exceeded the targets set for our marketing.The entire team was happy to see that our targeted operations and “less is more” approach were bringing results,’ explains Ikonen.

Five buyer personas, one at a time

We identified five buyer personas for our services and began to work on our content hub one persona at a time.At the same time, we carried out an inventory of our existing material. We had several good guides but they needed revamping and restructuring.

‘We looked at our buyer personas to see what they were like as people.We analysed their mindsets and ways of thinking. We considered this to be pivotal for our operations, as good content marketing is all about speaking to the target group in an emotionally intelligent way,’ she emphasises.

Built with the Eloqua system, Visma Suunta was the key to the transformation. We offer systematic content in line with our buyer personas’ needs: articles, blogs, videos, guides and research results.On the basis of their behaviour and choices, the visitors are guided towards more specific campaigns.To begin with, this content offers interesting and useful information in accordance with the visitors’ needs, and gradually they are guided towards more sales-oriented and product-specific information.

‘You can never have too much discussion’

‘Our sales and marketing teams work in close collaboration and engage in almost daily dialogue about activities and results.When we were in the process of transforming our marketing, we discussed how an interested reader should not be plunged directly from informative introductory content into product presentations.We have invested plenty of time in analytics and monitoring of results; this enables us to respond rapidly to the need for changes and, on the other hand, having concrete figures helps us to communicate the benefits of content marketing to the rest of the organisation.

For example, our guides are downloaded about 200 times a month. We monitor which content reaches its audience closely.We can see the number of various buyer personas that have accessed the marketing programme, the percentage of companies in any given sector that has been reached, and the lead statuses for all the contacts, which are updated as the person moves on in the marketing programme.This work involves continuous testing and analysis,’ says Ikonen.

The company has also learned a lot about channels and content types. Currently, the content reaches more than 50% of the ERP target group and more than 30% of the accounting company group.

‘We try to measure the benefits brought to us by marketing on the financial level, too. The number and quality of leads and their value in euros is monitored weekly.Overhauling your marketing is never easy.For us, the key to success was the marketing team’s strong belief in our vision, support provided by management, open communications and information flow between internal stakeholders, and the provision of information to the personnel.

One thing is certain: Visma Software’s marketing team won’t compromise on lead quality.

‘Our marketing and sales teams work together to achieve joint goals.


Did this whet your appetite for more systematic, goal-oriented marketing? 

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